Michigan reports 26 COVID-19 deaths as hospitalizations trend down

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan confirmed 26 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus Thursday, and the state's death tally stands at 6,061. 

The overall death toll includes 5,818 confirmed deaths and 243 probable deaths through Thursday. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed another 225 new COVID cases and 76 new probable cases. The state's cumulative total is 66,798 COVID cases when counting about 6,180 presumptive cases. 

COVID Act Now, a group tracking the spread of COVID-19, said this week Michigan is one of three states  "on track to contain" the virus, in addition to New York and New Jersey, citing Michigan's low infection rate, widespread testing and sufficient contact tracing.

Michigan ranks ninth in the nation among the states for the number of known COVID-19 cases and sixth for the most deaths, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University. 

But revised modeling by researchers at the University of Washington last week predicted that Michigan will see the fourth most COVID-19 deaths nationally this fall during a potential second wave of infections. The  Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projected Michigan's death toll to hit 8,771 deaths by Oct. 1, or about 2,700  more deaths than reported through Thursday.

Michigan has seen the number of its new COVID cases dropping for four weeks, averaging 146 new cases a day over the last week, compared with 179 new cases a day for the previous seven-day period, according to state data. 

Deaths have been declining for seven weeks. The state averaged 12 deaths a day for the last week, down from 20 deaths a day for the previous seven-day period.

About 100 research groups around the world are pursuing vaccines against the coronavirus.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 fell below 350 statewide this week to 338 in-patients on Wednesday, including 208 in critical care and 113 on ventilators, according to state data.

In mid-April, Michigan had 3,900 in the hospital with COVID-19, including nearly 1,500 in critical care and 1,200 patients on ventilators. 

The state's presumptive deaths ticked down to 243 Thursday from 247 a week ago. State officials say the number of probable deaths and cases can fluctuate based on investigations by the health department that may result in reclassifying the death or case as confirmed or deemed not a case of COVID-19.

Probable deaths are individuals who didn't test positive for the virus but whose death certificate listed COVID-19 disease as a cause of death.

Probable cases include individuals without a positive diagnostic lab test who were presumed to be infected due to their symptoms and an epidemiological link.