Michigan officials warn residents of expected COVID-19 case increases in May

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

State health officials are expecting an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in May as people gather for graduations, proms and other spring events.

Michigan residents are urged to be aware of the increased risk of transmission and "make personal decisions on masking and other strategies to protect themselves from COVID-19," the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday in a press release.

The rise can be blamed on the spread of the BA.2 subvariant of omicron, a highly transmissible version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Cases are already on the upswing in southeast Michigan.

"We’re definitely seeing a very tiny uptick," said Dr. Matthew Sims, director of infectious disease research for Beaumont Health. "It’s hard to be sure where it’s going to end up."

Health experts do not expect a significant increase in hospitalizations or deaths because of the great number of Michigan residents who are either vaccinated and/or boosted or have immunity from infection during the recent spike in omicron cases. 

The Southfield-based Beaumont health system had 67 patients admitted with a primary complaint of COVID-19 across its eight southeast Michigan hospitals on Thursday — up from a low point of  29 admitted systemwide on March 29.

“While we wish we could avoid these types of increases in cases, the good news is we have excellent, effective tools to travel safely and gather with loved ones and prevent severe outcomes from COVID-19,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan's chief  medical executive.

Michigan added 10,474 cases of COVID and 78 deaths from the virus on Wednesday, the most recent numbers available, including totals from the previous six days.

The state reported an average of about 1,496 cases per day over the five days, an increase from 1,104 cases per day last week.

Wednesday's additions brought the state's overall total to 2,411,464 cases and 35,935 deaths since the virus was first detected here in March 2020. Hospitalization rates in Michigan increased for the first time this past week after declining for nearly three months. 

The state health department noted that free KN95 masks are being distributed by community organizations and at local Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offices, county health departments and Area Agency on Aging offices.

The department also advised residents to get tested before traveling or attending group celebrations and gatherings, especially if the event will be attended by people who have increased vulnerability to the virus. People should also get tested if they think they've been exposed or have symptoms, and should isolate or quarantine until they test negative.

Free home test a kits are available from the federal government at covid.gov/tests, or visit Michigan.gov/COVIDTest to find a testing site.

“We encourage Michigan residents to make a COVID-19 plan: have masks and over-the-counter tests on hand, speak to your physician ahead of time to find out if you qualify for treatments if you are infected and make sure you are up-to-date on vaccines," Bagdasarian said.

"We recommend Michiganders test if they have symptoms or if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, and stay home if they are ill.”

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @kbouffardDN