Michigan COVID-19 deaths at 2,700 as cases rise to nearly 33,000

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan health officials reported Tuesday 232 more deaths from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, bringing the state's tally to 2,700. 

Tuesday's report was higher than recent days because it included 95 older deaths identified by comparing death certificate data to the state's registry of laboratory-confirmed cases. These deaths might have occurred days or weeks earlier.

A member of the Michigan National Guard moves bed frames from Hall B to Hall C where a temporary hospital is to accommodate patients with coronavirus at the TCF Center.

The state also confirmed 967 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing its cumulative total cases to 32,967. 

The new case figure was the highest daily increase in Michigan since last Thursday and 381 more than the new cases reported Monday, when the state reached 32,000 cases and reported 77 new deaths. 

Michigan continued to rank sixth in the nation for its number of COVID cases and third for deaths, trailing hard-hit New York and New Jersey, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday attributed the state's slowing rate of infection to the majority of businesses and people heeding her stay-home order in response to the virus.

"Our death toll is still very high. We are the 10th largest state in the nation, and we've got the third-highest death toll. That tells you we've got a uniquely tough problem that we are confronting," Whitmer said in Lansing.

Michigan's epicenter continues to be the southeastern region of the state, with 76% of cases and 83% of deaths reported in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, including Detroit, according to state data. 

About 85% of Michigan's deaths have been people age 60 years and older with an median age of 75.

State officials are starting to focus more resources on outbreaks in Michigan's "congregate" facilities — a category that includes the state's 458 nursing homes. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday it intends this week to begin publishing the naming the nursing homes and the number of COVID cases they have, spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said. 

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said Monday that officials are aware of at least 243 congregate facilities with outbreaks of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 as of April 15. She called the trend "very concerning." 

Congregate facilities include adult foster care, group homes, homeless shelters, independent living facilities, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, prisons and juvenile justice facilities.

The state has started requiring every skilled nursing facility to report suspected COVID-19 cases to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and next week expects to add more reporting requirements for all long-term care facilities, Khaldun said.