Michigan's COVID-19 death toll hits 4,300 with 45,600 cases

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — The number of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan increased by 93 Thursday for a new total of 4,343, marking the fifth straight day the state has reported fewer than 100 new deaths.

As Gov. Gretchen Whitmer unveiled new details of her plans for reopening the state's economy, Thursday's data also showed 592 new cases, the eighth straight day the state reported fewer than 1,000 new cases.

Michigan's new total for cases was 45,646, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Vehicles check-in at the CVS drive-thru COVID-19 rapid testing site at 16301 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn, Friday, April 24, 2020.

"The number of cases that we are seeing has started to plateau," Whitmer said Thursday. "This is because your staying at home has made a difference.”

Whitmer's plan for reopening the state's economy, MI Safe Start, features six phases. The state is currently in the third phase called "flattening," where case growth is gradually declining, she said.

The next phase called "improving" allows additional office and retail businesses to open. To get there, the governor wants to see cases and deaths decline more sharply, the percentage of positive tests decreasing, health care capacity strengthening as well as robust testing and containment protocols being in place.

Of the 93 deaths added Thursday, 38 were a result of a review of past death certificates, according to the state.

Michigan has expanded COVID-19 testing but the numbers of positive results have generally dropped, according to tracking by the Department of Health and Human Services.

In the seven-day period from April 28 through Monday, the state reported 62,454 total tests. Of those, 6,279 or 10% came back positive.

Two weeks earlier, in the seven-day period from April 14 through April 20, the state reported 32,653 total tests  Of those, 7,085 or 22% came back positive.

Likewise, the state's newest testing statistics show five straight days with less than 10% of tests coming back positive: Friday through Tuesday.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, noted the testing data during Thursday's press conference.

The rate of spread of the disease is slowing, Khaldun said, but she added, "We still have spread in many parts of the state."

Khaldun recommended people continue to practice social distancing, wear masks in public spaces, not gather in large groups and wash hands.

Of Michigan's 83 counties, 79 have at least one confirmed case. But 68% of the cases are in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. One month ago, 80% of the state's cases were in those three counties.

As of last Friday, 15,659 people in Michigan had recovered from the disease, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. That number, which is updated once a week, represents people who were still alive 30 days after their onset of illness.

Michigan, which once ranked third nationally in COVID-19 cases and deaths, is now seventh for cases and fourth for deaths, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.

The state is behind New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts for the number of novel coronavirus deaths.