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Michigan confirmed 68 more deaths Wednesday attributed to the novel coronavirus, bringing the state's total to 5,334. It was the seventh consecutive day that new deaths fell below 100.

Wednesday's total included 14 older deaths identified by comparing death certificate data with the state's registry of laboratory-confirmed cases. These deaths might have occurred days or weeks ago.

The state also reported 504 new cases of COVID-19. Michigan has had 55,608 known cases since the disease was first detected in Michigan in March, according to state data. 

Michigan ranks eighth across the country in its number of known COVID cases and ranks fourth for deaths behind New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University. 

Overall as a state, the rate of rise of COVID-19 cases continues to decline, Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said Tuesday.

Regionally, cases are steadily declining in southeast Michigan, southwest Michigan, northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Metro Detroit accounted for 63% of Michigan's COVID-19 cases and 78% of the state's deaths through Tuesday.

The Grand Rapids area is seeing the highest rate of new cases, Khaldun said.

"Even if cases are low in an area, it does not mean that all of the risk is gone," Khaldun said. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's recent orders eased restrictions on social gatherings, allowing for groups of 10 or fewer people, but instituted safety restrictions on how businesses may reopen.

mburke@detroitnews.com 

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