With 38 new COVID deaths, Michigan's rate continues to decline

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan added 38 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the state's death toll to 5,372. 

Thursday's total included 17 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 confirmed 406 new cases of COVID-19. Michigan has had 56,014 known cases since the disease was first detected in Michigan in early March, according to state data.

Beaumont Health technologist Jacqueline Watson prepares COVID-19 test specimens at a laboratory.

The number of new cases continues to fall. The state has averaged 330 cases a day for the last five days, compared with an average of 490 for the previous five-day period. 

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

But COVID deaths have slowed to a rate of fewer than 100 a day in Michigan for over a week. The state has averaged about 57 COVID deaths a day so far in May, compared to 118 a day in April. 

Detroit is extending free COVID-19 testing to all residents of southeast Michigan as the ratio of positive cases among suburban residents surpasses those in Detroit.

Mayor Mike Duggan announced the testing expansion this week for visitors of the drive-up site at the former Michigan State Fairgrounds, noting the prevalence of cases seen in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in recent weeks has been higher than the city. 

Metro Detroit, including the city and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, has accounted for 62% of Michigan's COVID-19 cases and 78% of the state's deaths through Thursday.

Southeast Michigan has seen reductions in cases for seven weeks and is down to about 20 cases per million people per day, said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive.

"Most areas of the state have reached or almost reached this milestone as well," Khaldun said during a Thursday press briefing. 

West Michigan, which had experienced the highest rate of new cases recently, has had a reduction in cases for the last week, she said.

"The local health departments in that area of the state are diligently working to track any new cases and outbreaks," Khaldun said.

"If positive trends continue, we will be able to continue moving forward with the next phases of the MI Safe Start Plan."


Staff writer Christine Ferretti contributed