COVID death toll exceeds 5,500 as Michigan adds 25 more deaths
Michigan on Monday reported 25 more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus, bringing the state's death toll to 5,516.
The state also confirmed 135 new cases of the illness COVID-19 on Monday, for a total 57,532 known cases since the disease was first detected in Michigan this spring, according to state data.
The weeks-long decline in deaths and new cases led Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday to lift Michigan's stay-at-home order and to allow dine-in restaurants, bars,libraries, swimming pools and day camps to reopen with restrictions next week.
Businesses would be allowed to serve customers inside their shops without an appointment starting later this week. She also said groups of up to 100 could again convene outdoors, effective immediately.
"We've seen, as the governor mentioned, encouraging trends with rates of cases declining across the entire state," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan's chief medical executive.
Overall, Michigan is seeing about 12 new cases per million people a day, Khaldun said. Across the state, about 12% of people tested have tested positive for the disease cumulatively, but in the past two weeks the proportion has been about 5%, she added.
"Because of these trends, we're able to move regions of the state forward with next steps in the MI Safe Start Plan," Khaldun said.
"But let me be very clear: The threat of the disease has not gone away. There's no vaccine. There's no antiviral treatment, and we do not expect to have one for several months. And just one person can still infect many many more people."
She stressed the importance of businesses following safety protocols and guidance put out by public health officials as they reopen.
"it's incredibly important that people continue to socially distance, wear a mask, not gather in large crowds and wash hands appropriately," Khaldun added.
"Those who are most vulnerable to severe disease from COVID-19, like the elderly, and those with underlying chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease, (should) strongly consider still not going out unless you absolutely have to, to protect yourself."
The totals of new cases and new deaths in the state in May dropped significantly from April.
In May, the state confirmed 16,018 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,702 new deaths. The totals were less than half those for the month of April when the state confirmed 33,764 new cases and 3,530 new deaths.
Michigan ranks eighth across the country in its number of known COVID cases and fifth for deaths behind New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and now Pennsylvania, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.
Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed