Lansing — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan hit 21,504 Thursday, but the total for new cases reported in the last 24 hours dropped for the second straight day.

The state reported 1,158 new cases Thursday, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. That's the smallest single-day increase since March 31.

However, the death toll in Michigan increased by 117 Thursday to 1,076, the second largest single-day jump in deaths yet.

“We are seeing some very early data that suggests the growth rate for positive cases may be slowing,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive. “But there’s still not enough testing happening across our state.”

The Thursday numbers came as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a new executive order that extended Michigan's stay-at-home policy by 17 days through April 30. They also came a day after Michigan reported an eight-day low in new cases in a 24-hour period with 1,376 new cases disclosed Wednesday.

Some officials have found reason for hope in this week's case totals, but others have urged caution, saying it will take time to determine whether Michigan has truly hit a turning point.

"No single day can be considered significant as daily case numbers can be impacted by many external factors," said Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. "It’s consistent trends over time that we look for to determine changes."

Metro Detroit has been the epicenter of the fight against the virus in Michigan. Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties are home to 80% of the state's COVID-19 cases.

However, Thursday's data showed only 864 new cases across the three counties, the smallest increase since March 30, according to the state's tracking.

According to current modeling from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Michigan's peak for hospital use came Tuesday and its peak for COVID-19 deaths was Thursday.

During a Thursday press conference, Whitmer said other models were "more likely scenarios, based on the data that we have seen and what is actually happening here on the ground in Michigan."

Whitmer has said Michigan's peak for cases won't come until late April or early May.

Detroit — one of the hardest hit cities in the country — reported 249 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, 84 fewer cases in a 24-hour period than were reported the day prior.

"We are seeing the line, the curve, beginning to flatten out," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said during a Wednesday news conference.

Michigan began releasing Wednesday new information on individuals with COVID-19 who've recovered from the virus, testing data by region and patients in the hospital.

As of Friday, 56 people in the state who are confirmed to have the virus have survived 30 days from the onset of their illness.

Staff Writers Christine Ferretti and Melissa Nann Burke contributed

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