Michigan death toll exceeds 3,600; known cases top 40K

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan reported 103 additional deaths stemming from the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total deaths linked to the illness COVID-19 to 3,670. 

The state also confirmed 1,137 new cases, bringing its cumulative total cases to 40,399, according to state data. 

The new case figure was the largest daily increase in Michigan since Friday and 85 more than the new cases reported Tuesday, when the state reached 39,262 cases and 3,567 deaths. 

A University of Michigan technician works on developing a potential test for the coronavirus at the Michigan Medicine microbiology laboratory in Ann Arbor. March 2020

The bump in new cases could be explained by the state's expansion of testing criteria in recent weeks to include more people, as well as the addition of testing sites, said Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"The more testing you do, the more cases you will find," she said. 

Michigan ranks seventh in the nation for its number of COVID-19 cases and third for deaths behind New York (nearly 23,000 deaths) and New Jersey (nearly 6,500 deaths), according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. 

Michigan has also generally been seeing fewer hospitalizations and fewer patients in intensive care units due to COVID-19, according to state data. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has cited the plateauing of new cases as the reason behind her allowing some previously restricted activities to resume in the state, though she extended her stay-home order Friday for three more weeks. 

Whitmer's office said Wednesday the construction industry could resume work May 7

Detroit reached a grim milestone Wednesday, surpassing 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, with 1,008 fatalities and 8,954 cases, according to city data. 

But Detroit's outbreak appears to be "strongly on the decline," Mayor Mike Duggan said Tuesday, expressing cautious optimism for the state's hardest-hit city.

The mayor's analysis came as he unveiled standards and steps for the first wave of city workers to return next week with new safety measures.

The Metro Detroit counties of Oakland, Macomb and Wayne, including Detroit, have accounted for about 72% of Michigan's cases and 82% of the deaths through Wednesday. 

This week marked 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, as other regions of the state see their COVID caseloads grow.

Counties outside the region accounted for 51% of Wednesday's new caseload.