Michigan confirms more than 500 new COVID-19 cases, 19 more deaths

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — The number of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan jumped nearly 80% as the state released new data Wednesday showing 506 newly confirmed cases of the virus.

The state now has 2,294 total cases, a 28% increase, and 43 total deaths, a rise of 19 deaths, according to numbers revealed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at 2 p.m. Wednesday. They reflected the largest increases in cases and deaths in a single day yet. 

In data released Tuesday, the state had 1,791 total cases and 24 deaths.

Security personnel check potential patients for COVID-19 symptoms outside the emergency department at Spectrum Health Hospital in Grand Rapids.

John Fox, president and CEO of Beaumont Health, spoke about the quick spread of the virus during a Wednesday afternoon tele-town hall organized by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Fox said Beaumont, the state's largest health system, got its first COVID-19 patient two weeks ago. The system had more than 500 COVID-19 patients Wednesday morning and would soon have more than 600.

“We are growing by 100 patients a day," Fox said.

“The risk is quite real," he said about COVID-19 at another point. "This is a very serious, highly contagious pathogen.”

Now, more than half or 47 of Michigan's 83 counties have at least one confirmed case of coronavirus, according to the Wednesday data. It was the first time a majority of the counties had a case. The six new counties with cases are Iosco, Lenawee, Luce, Marquette, Sanilac and Van Buren.

But most cases continue to be in Metro Detroit. Eighty-five percent of the state's cases are in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne counties and 88% of the deaths.

The state originally released data showing 507 new cases and 2,295 overall but revised the numbers downward by one case each later in the day.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Michigan had the fifth most confirmed cases among U.S. states, according to data tracked by the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.

Wayne County — Michigan's largest county — continued to rank seventh among counties nationally for the number of confirmed cases. Wayne County was behind four counties in New York, Washington's King County, where Seattle is, and Illinois's Cook County, where Chicago is.

Detroit has 705 cases, while Wayne County as a whole has 1,122 cases, according to state data. That's 49% of the total cases statewide for Michigan's largest county, which accounts for about 17% of the state's population.

The Livingston County Health Department announced the first death of a person with COVID-19 from the county on Wednesday. The person, an elderly male with underlying health conditions that put him at greater risk, was hospitalized Thursday and died Tuesday evening at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.

"This is a tragic reminder of how serious a threat COVID-19 is to our residents, especially those with underlying health conditions and really, to the community as a whole," said Dianne McCormick, health officer at the Livingston County Health Department.

Michigan confirmed its first COVID-19 case 15 days ago on March 10.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other governors have taken drastic steps to stem the spread of the virus. Whitmer has shuttered the state's schools, closed many businesses and ordered residents to limit their trips outside their homes. The stay-at-home order came Monday.