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Deaths linked to the novel coronavirus in Michigan hit 3,407 Monday, as the state recorded 92 new fatalities.

The number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed Monday was 432, putting the overall total at 38,210. Monday's daily total for new cases was the lowest in more than a month.

Likewise, the seven-day average for new cases in a 24-hour period dropped for the third straight seven-day period.

Michigan ranks seventh nationally for its total number of COVID-19 cases but ranks third in deaths behind New York and New Jersey, according to tracking by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

"I am cautiously optimistic that we are heading in the right direction," Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said Monday.

"We will need to continually monitor and track the data and incrementally look at reopening the economy, keeping the health of our workers, and our community, top priority." 

Khaldun has said the state is watching for a sustained decrease in new cases based on rolling averages over weeks, as well as fewer people testing positive as testing continues to ramp up statewide. 

"We're seeing a decline in the percentage of people who are tested for testing positive, and again that is also a good sign," she said. 

Khaldun said overall hospital capacity is improving daily, but there's still some Michigan counties at their limit for intensive care units. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in the next week or two she anticipates the next sector of businesses to have COVID-19 restrictions lifted could include construction, and she is also looking at industrial sectors and certain outdoor enterprises. Her approach will be gradual, she said. 

"What we want to do is, as we turn this dial, to re-engage incrementally so that we can continue forward motion, not to jump in and then have to move backward," she said Monday. "None of us wants that and this is really the smartest way to proceed."

Michigan has had some of the most aggressive measures to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. 

But last week, Whitmer began allowing motorized boating and golfing and permitted certain "low risk" businesses to resume operations, such as lawn services, garden shops, landscapers and nurseries, as long as they follow "enhanced" social-distancing protocols.

Southeast Michigan has been hit hardest by the virus, with about 74% of the state's COVID cases reported in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

Khaldun noted Monday that other regions of the state are seeing an increase in the rate of cases. 

For instance, Kent County — home to Grand Rapids — continues to see an uptick in new cases, hitting 11,000 total cases on Monday, up from 354 on April 15, according to state data.

"We did something on Friday to relax or reopen the economy a little bit. We need to watch the data and make sure cases — we don't see a spike," Khaldun said. 

"We want to make sure we're safe before we start doing additional things," Khaldun said.

mburke@detroitnews.com

cmauger@detroitnews.com

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