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Michigan adds fewer than 50 deaths; known COVID-19 cases exceed 53k

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan reported an additional 43 deaths tied to the novel coronavirus on Wednesday for a total of 5,060 deaths statewide. 

For the sixth consecutive day, the state confirmed fewer than 800 new cases of COVID-19, adding 659 cases for a total of 53,009, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

The state has continued to rank seventh in the nation for its number of COVID-19 cases and fourth for deaths — behind New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. 

State health officials are planning to soon begin reporting “probable” deaths due to COVID-19 in Michigan, said Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the state health department. 

Probable deaths will be reported separately from those deaths in which a lab confirmed a COVID-positive case, she said.

A probable death includes, for example, one where the death certificate lists COVID-19 as the cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death, but without a lab-confirmed positive test, Sutfin said.

The bulk of Michigan's cases overall (64%) have been in Metro Detroit, as well as 79% of the state's COVID deaths, but just 27% of the new cases confirmed Wednesday were in the Metro Detroit counties of Oakland, Macomb and Wayne, including Detroit. 

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, passed a grim milestone Wednesday, surpassing 1,000 deaths for a total of 1,004

The state generally has been seeing fewer COVID hospitalizations and patients in intensive care. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announced the partial reopening of Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, which have had relatively few cases of COVID-19.

A sign points to a COVID-19 testing site at a Sparrow Health System facility in Lansing on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

Her plan would reopen retail businesses and offices in those regions starting Friday, including bars and restaurants, which will be required to operate at 50% capacity.

Whitmer said she might announce more re-engagement later this week ahead of the Memorial Day weekend for other parts of the state.

"If we keep doing what we have been and protecting ourselves and our families from this virus, we can begin thinking about re-engaging sectors in the lower parts of our state," Whitmer said on Monday. 

mburke@detroitnews.com