Michigan nears 3,000 COVID-19 deaths, cases rise to 35,200

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan reported 164 additional deaths stemming from the novel coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the state’s death toll due to the illness COVID-19 to 2,977.

State officials said Thursday's tally included 55 older deaths identified by comparing death certificate data with the state's registry of laboratory-confirmed cases. These deaths might have occurred days or weeks earlier.

The state also confirmed 1,325 new cases Thursday, bringing its cumulative total cases to 35,291, according to state data. 

The new case figure was the highest daily increase in Michigan since April 14 and 326 more than the new cases reported Wednesday, when the state reached 33,966 cases and 2,813 deaths. 

Michigan's rate of infection has been leveling off, and the state dropped in rank to seventh in the nation for its number of COVID-19 cases.

But Michigan still ranks third for deaths behind New York (nearly 19,500 deaths) and New Jersey (over 5,100 deaths), according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. 

Workers are seen in a side view mirror at the new rapid-testing site in the parking lot of Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn.

The state is turning more attention to outbreaks in Michigan's "congregate" facilities — a category that includes the state's 458 nursing homes. 

Michigan's health department said Thursday it's aware of at least 340 congregate facilities with outbreaks of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 — a figure that is up from 243 facilities a week ago. 

Sixty-six percent of the facilities with outbreaks are clustered in Metro Detroit, with 82 in Wayne County, 78 in Oakland, 41 in Macomb and 23 in Detroit, according to state data. 

The state has not broken down the facilities by type, but congregate facilities include adult foster care, group homes, homeless shelters, long-term care facilities, nursing homes and prisons.

Officials said this week they plan to soon name Michigan nursing homes with COVID outbreaks and the number of their suspected or confirmed cases. 

Michigan's epicenter in the pandemic has been been the southeastern region of the state, with 75% of the state's cases and 82.5% of deaths reported in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, including Detroit, according to state data through Thursday. 

A smaller portion of Wednesday's new cases came from Metro Detroit, making up 55% of that day's new reported cases. The proportion grew Thursday to 63% of new cases being reported from Metro Detroit. 

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said Wednesday that Michigan hospitals that experienced the heaviest surge of COVID patients have experienced a leveling off and are now discharging more COVID patients than they are admitting, and that fewer people are in intensive care.

“We are not yet out of the woods," Khaldun said. "We're closely monitoring the entire state, making sure we're ready for any surge in cases and preparing to especially support our hospitals — particularly the ones in rural areas."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she sees ​​reasons for "cautious optimism" but is planning for a short-term extension of her statewide stay-at-home order, with details expected to come Friday.

"We need to keep it up. I'm hoping to say more on when we can start loosening restrictions as soon as Friday of this week," Whitmer said.