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Michigan reported 69 additional deaths tied to the novel coronavirus on Thursday for a total of 5,129 deaths statewide.

Thursday's report included 31 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.

For the seventh consecutive day, the state confirmed fewer than 800 new cases of COVID-19, adding 501 cases for a total of 53,510, 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. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday she has lifted restrictions on retail businesses and auto dealerships across the state starting May 26, but visits must be made by appointment. Restrictions would also be lifted on nonessential medical, dental and veterinary procedures starting May 29.

The order will ease restrictions on gatherings, allowing for groups of 10 or fewer people, effective immediately. 

"Our member hospitals and health systems will continue to ensure that services offered adhere to strong safety, infection control and other COVID-19-related precautions," Whitmer siad. "Hospitals are safe; please don’t delay care of any kind."   

She also urged residents ahead of Memorial Day weekend to practice proper safety protocol to prevent the spread of the virus. 

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

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 73% of the state's COVID deaths.

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, passed a grim milestone Wednesday, surpassing 1,000 deaths for a total of 1,018 on Thursday. 

Detroit added 15 new deaths Thursday, for a total of 1,297 coronavirus-related deaths. The hard-hit city is showing a steep decline in deaths related to the virus.

The city also added 57 confirmed cases on Thursday, bringing the total cases to 10,581.

There were no reported deaths that occurred Wednesday, said Detroit's Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair.

"This data remains fluid as the State and local hospitals and other health care providers continue reviewing and updating death records fully attributable to COVID-19," she said in a statement Thursday.

"Overall, our week-to-week trend continues to be encouraging. In the past seven days, we have lost 25 Detroiters to the virus, considerably less than 60 reported the previous seven days. I remain encouraged by our residents who are wearing their mask and social distancing to protect their health and the health of others from COVID-19."

The state generally has been seeing fewer COVID hospitalizations and patients in intensive care. The number of COVID-positive individuals in Michigan's nursing homes has fallen over the past week and stands at about 2,670.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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