Michigan has more than 3,600 COVID-19 cases, deaths hit 92

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan has now seen 92 deaths tied to COVID-19 and has confirmed 3,657 COVID-19 cases as the virus continues to spread here, stretching health care providers' resources.

The new numbers released by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at 3 p.m. Friday were up 801 cases and 32 deaths from Thursday's totals of 2,856 confirmed cases and 60 deaths.

Medical tents are prepared for the first day of testing at the new regional COVID-19 testing facility at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds site in Detroit on Friday.

The state also released for the first time Friday age information about the deceased. The youngest person who died was 36. The oldest was 92. The average age of the deceased was 68.4 years old.

"We are going to continue to see the numbers go up," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during a Friday morning appearance on WDET's Detroit Today. "And I think that that's a reality we have to be just bluntly honest about. We are behind, two weeks behind where we should be in testing and ramping up with materials. And COVID-19 is growing in Michigan."

Friday's state data confirmed 32 new deaths, the largest single-day jump in demises since Michigan confirmed its first case on March 10. As of Tuesday, Michigan had reported 24 overall deaths. Wednesday's data reported 19 more. Thursday's data brought 17 more. And Friday's data ballooned the total by 32.

Of the 32 new deaths, more than three-quarters were in Metro Detroit — 11 in Wayne County, 11 in Oakland County and three in Macomb County.

The number of specimens tested for COVID-19 in Michigan stood at 13,769, according to state data available Friday afternoon. That total was smaller than the disclosed testing numbers released by states with similar outbreaks of the virus.

As of 2 p.m. Friday, Michigan ranked behind five states for the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronarvirus Resource Center. Michigan was behind New York, New Jersey, California, Washington and Florida. The numbers didn't include the data released Friday afternoon by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Metro Detroit continues to see the vast majority of Michigan's confirmed coronavirus cases. Of the state's 3,657 cases, 83% are in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. While Wayne County has 17% of the state's population, it's home to nearly half of the COVID-19 cases and 40% of the deaths. That share of the overall cases — 49.5% — is the largest Wayne County has had in the last seven days.

On Thursday, U.S. coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx identified Wayne County as an emerging hot spot and an area of focus.

"We are concerned about certain counties that look like they’re having a more rapid increase — if you look at Wayne County in Michigan and you look at Cook County and Chicago,” Birx said Thursday.

Detroit, which is part of Wayne, accounts for 1,075 of the more than 3,600 cases in Michigan and 23 of the state's 92 deaths. The state's largest city has experienced a rapid growth in coronavirus cases and deaths in part because its population is more vulnerable to severe cases and death.

According to the new data, 57 of Michigan's 83 counties now have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. That was up from 52 on Thursday. The counties added to the list were Crawford, Dickinson, Gogebic, Gratiot and Huron.

The surge of coronavirus patients is already testing the capacity limitations of some hospitals in southeast Michigan.

Earlier this week, the Whitmer administration informed hospitals that they will be required to shift COVID-19 patients among hospitals to ensure that facilities at capacity can transfer patients to locations with empty beds.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, also said Michigan was looking into alternative sites that could be used to increase the number of patients the health care system can handle here.

The data released Friday by the state was the first under a new setup. The state began releasing the data at 3 p.m. instead of 2 p.m. each day, stopped breaking down the home counties of new cases and started listing age and gender information about those who had died.

"As the number of people tested and case counts have drastically increased in recent days, our team has prioritized how it is reporting this information," Khaldun said in a statement explaining the changes. "Our goal is to provide timely and accurate data during this pandemic."