Michigan COVID-19 deaths jump to 845 with nearly 19,000 cases

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — For the second day in a row, Michigan has hit a 24-hour high for COVID-19 deaths as the state's death toll climbed by 118 Tuesday to 845.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a televised update on COVID-19.

The state now has 18,970 confirmed cases of the virus, according to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services. The case count jumped Tuesday by 1,749, a 10% increase but also the second highest 24-hour increase in new cases the state has experienced yet.

In a call with reporters, Whitmer described the day as "another tough 24 hours here in Michigan."

"We are still in the early up-slope of what is going to hit Michigan incredibly hard," the governor said. "This novel virus has no cure and no vaccine."

Michigan has the third most COVID-19 cases and deaths of any state in country, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.

As of March 31 — seven days ago — Michigan reported 259 total deaths.

"Each of these numbers is a person," Whitmer told reporters Tuesday. "It's a Michigander who had a story and has a family who can't mourn the way that we're used to mourning because they can't get together safely."

Metro Detroit continues to be the epicenter of the spread of the virus in Michigan. As of Tuesday, 86% of the deaths and 80% of the cases in the state were in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. The three counties have about 40% of the state's population.

With 9,045 cases, Wayne County alone now accounts for 47% of the state's cases but 17% of the state's population.

The virus is also spreading outside of southeast Michigan.

Genesee County, home to Flint, now has the most per-capita cases of counties not in Metro Detroit. The county has 638 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the state's numbers. Six days ago, it had 249 cases.

Rural Hillsdale County in southern Michigan is now sixth in the state for per-capita cases behind  Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Genesee and Washtenaw counties.

Hillsdale County, home to the independent Hillsdale College, has 55 confirmed cases of the virus with about 45,600 people living there, according to the state's data.

A number of individuals at a long-term care facility in the county tested positive, said Rebecca Burns, health officer at the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency. But there have been cases outside the facility as well, she said.

"We’re seeing some transmission for certain," Burns said.