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Michigan death toll from COVID-19 exceeds 3,500; known cases top 39,000

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan's coronavirus death toll reached 3,567 Tuesday as the state added 160 deaths to its official tally. 

Tuesday's report was higher than recent days in part because it included 40 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 ago.

The state also reported 1,052 new cases, bringing its cumulative total to 39,262 known cases, according to state data.

Nationally, the U.S. surpassed 1 million cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the most of any country by far, according to tracking by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. 

The new case figure in Michigan was the highest daily increase since Friday and 620 more than the new cases reported Monday, when the state reached 38,210 cases and 3,407 deaths. The jump in cases could be the result of increased testing. 

Drive-thru coronavirus testing at 1200 N. Telegraph, by appointment, in Pontiac, Michigan on April 16, 2020.

Michigan's rate of infection began leveling off in recent days, and the state now ranks seventh in the country for its number of COVID-19 cases.

Michigan still has the third most deaths in the nation, behind New York and New Jersey, according to Hopkins' tracker.

But the state is seeing fewer hospitalizations and fewer patients in intensive care units due to COVID-19, according to state data. 

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said Monday she’s “cautiously optimistic” that the state’s headed in the right direction.

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 capacity increases.  

"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. 

The Metro Detroit counties of Oakland, Macomb and Wayne, including Detroit, have accounted for about 73% of Michigan's cases and 82% of the deaths through Tuesday, but other regions such as west Michigan are seeing their COVID caseloads grow.

This week marks the first time since the state began breaking down cases by county that the Metro Detroit region did not account for a majority of new cases.

Counties outside the region accounted for 53% of Tuesday's new caseload.

Kent County — home to Grand Rapids — has recently seen a jump in new cases, hitting 1,305 total cases on Tuesday, up from 354 cases on April 15, according to state data. The county has reported 33 deaths linked to COVID-19.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cited the plateauing of cases when she extended her stay-at-home order Friday for another three weeks, while lifting certain restrictions on businesses and outdoor activities. 

Whitmer said Monday that in the next week or two she anticipates construction to be among the next sector of businesses to have COVID-19 restrictions lifted. She is also looking at industrial sectors and certain outdoor enterprises, but she stressed her approach will be gradual.

mburke@detroitnews.com

Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed.