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Michigan adds 11 cases as total hits 65 coronavirus cases

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing —  Michigan added 11 cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday and now has 65 confirmed cases, according to new numbers from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The total released Tuesday came as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took a new step to help hospitals deal with potential spikes in patients and was up from the 54 cases revealed Monday evening.Of the 11 new cases, two are in Detroit, two are in Macomb County and two are in Oakland County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had tracked 4,226 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 nationally as of noon Tuesday. There have been 75 deaths, according to the CDC.

Michigan's total of confirmed cases is likely artificially low because the availability of testing isn't widespread, said Joseph Eisenberg, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan.

"If they start to improve the testing, we’re going to see an even sharper increase in cases," Eisenberg predicted. "But that doesn’t mean that there’s increased transmission. This is an inherent problem in surveillance."

The initial patient profile in Michigan shows that 58% are male and 38% are hospitalized.

The biggest cohort so far by age is 38% of cases involve those age 60 years old to 69 and another 17% 40-49 years old. And 3% are between the ages of 0 and 19, 12% are 20-29, 14% are 30-39, 14% are 50-59, 9% are 70-79 and 3% are 80 or above, according to state data.

Metro Detroit accounts for 63% of Michigan's caseload with 41 cases. The state's largest county, Wayne, has the most cases at 17, followed by Oakland County at 16 and Macomb County at eight. 

They are followed by Washtenaw with seven cases and Kent County in West Michigan with five cases.

The rest of the 12 cases break down this way: Bay, one case; Charlevoix, one case; Ingham, two cases; Jackson, one case; Leelanau, one case; Monroe, one case; Montcalm, one case; Otsego, one case; Ottawa, one case; and St. Clair, two cases.

One of the most recent Michigan residents to test positive for coronavirus attended a movie at the AMC Fairlane 21 in Dearborn on March 10. The theater is one of Wayne County's first potential exposure sites for COVID-19, according to a statement by the county health department.

The woman, who had no domestic or international travel or known contact with other positive COVID-19 cases, was at the theater between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. March 10, the day the first positive coronavirus cases were announced in Michigan.

“The epidemiology team is also working with the business to determine the identity of customers who were in the establishment at this time,” the Wayne County Public Health Division said in a Tuesday statement. 

Individuals who attended the theater should monitor themselves for symptoms — such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath — through March 24, according to the health division.

In addition, a second resident at a senior living community in West Bloomfield has tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a notice on its website, All Seasons of West Bloomfield said it was advised late Tuesday morning by the Oakland County Health Department of the development. The senior living community on Monday announced its first case of coronavirus and noted the patient was receiving care off-site.

The Michigan Department of Corrections revealed Tuesday that an employee of the Jackson County Probation Office and an employee at the Detroit Detention Center had tested positive.

The worker in Jackson had a recent history of international travel. The worker in Detroit didn't have a history of domestic or international travel, according to the department.

The Detroit Detention Center holds pre-arraigned detainees 17 years of age or older in the City of Detroit for up to 72 hours.

The new confirmed cases came a few hours before Whitmer issued an executive order to ease state regulations and allow hospitals and care facilities to better cope with an expected influx of patients.

The order would allow hospitals to increase their number of beds beyond what is usually permitted under state guidelines and would authorize the construction of mobile facilities.

A day earlier, Whitmer took a series of wide-ranging steps to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the state by trying to stop people from congregating in large groups. Through executive orders, she banned public gatherings of more than 50 people, temporarily closed dine-in service at restaurants and shuttered workout facilities, movie theaters and bars.

Those steps came four days after she closed all of Michigan's schools until at least April 5.

"This disease is a challenge unlike any we’ve experienced in our lifetimes," Whitmer said in a statement on Monday. "Fighting it will cause significant but temporary changes to our daily lives."

In a Tuesday phone call with reporters, Whitmer said she has not been tested, but was feeling well and maintaining the social distancing protocol that her administration has been encouraging among Michigan residents. 

One member of Whitmer's cabinet or inner circle has been tested for the virus but the results were negative, she said. The governor declined to say which official had been tested. 

President Donald Trump was tested last week after being questioned about it by a reporter at a Friday press conference. His results were negative for the virus. 

Health providers have said they would prefer to focus on testing people with the symptoms for the coronavirus, which include a bad cough, a fever and difficulty breathing. 

State officials continue to recommend Michigan residents take the following steps to prevent the spread of the virus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing;
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick;   
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others;
  • Replace handshakes with elbow bumps;
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.  

Detroit News Staff Writers Beth LeBlanc and Christine Ferretti contributed

cmauger@detroitnews.com