Michigan adds 19 new virus deaths, 314 new cases as infections tick up

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Michigan confirmed 19 new coronavirus deaths and 314 new cases on Saturday as the number of new, known infections is ticking up.

To date, the state has tallied 69,679 known cases of COVID-19, including 6,670 probable cases, since the disease was first detected in Michigan in March. 

Michigan's death toll from the disease now stands at 6,153, including 246 probable deaths.

The number of infections in the state has risen over the last 10 days after falling for weeks.

Health officials attribute the recent growth to an increase in testing and to clusters of outbreaks in counties such as Ingham and Bay, as well as farms and factories in Branch, Lapeer, Oceana and Newaygo counties.

The state reported 1,925 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 this week, the highest weekly total in four weeks. However, the number of total tests for the virus performed here also trended up here this week, according to current state data.

The percentage of tests bringing positive results has remained low but has inched upward. On  Friday, 3.1% of the diagnostic tests performed were positive.

While the case numbers trend upward, the number of deaths linked to the virus continue to drop. This week, the state reported only 64 new deaths, the lowest weekly total since March 15 through March 21. That was the first week that the state reported deaths linked to COVID-19.

The weekly total for deaths peaked April 19-25 at 966. The weekly total for confirmed cases peaked April 5-11 at 9,768, according to state tracking.

Hospitalizations due to the disease in Michigan had not increased significantly through Thursday, and the percentage of those testing positive for the virus stands at 2.55%. 

On Friday, the state had only one death. The last time it was that low was March 19 after the first fatality tied to the virus was reported here.

Of the 10 counties that have confirmed the most COVID-19 cases per capita this month, seven are in west Michigan, including Oceana County, with 214 cases as of Friday. 

Sixty percent of Oceana's cases are related to outbreaks at five farms and manufacturing facilities, including 25 cases that were spread by infected workers within their homes, said Dr. Jennifer Morse, medical director for the health district covering 10 counties, including Oceana. 

Two of the outbreaks were large, with 120 cases tied to two facilities, she said. 

Newaygo County has had smaller outbreaks at seven facilities tied to 35 cases, representing 22% of the county's 157 cases, Morse said Friday. 

Officials said public health nurses are working with the businesses to ensure they have the resources they need, are screening other employees, checking temperatures as needed and helping to arrange testing for co-workers. 

In some cases, the virus spreads in group housing for migrant workers or because of several generations of families living together, according to health officials.

Some farm workers go to work ill, while others have trouble going home if they're sick due to "work pressures" from their employer, she told reporters on a Friday call. 

"Certainly, we've had outbreaks in other counties, as well, with migrant populations where there's a fear of not working because of fear of losing work and being replaced. There's no availability for sick leave, even through the COVID age," Morse said. 

"We have worked really hard from the beginning to basically do the most good with the least damage. Sometimes you have to bend things a little bit to contain things to one farm rather than the fear of someone taking work at another farm and potentially spreading things further."

The Lapeer County Health Department this week reported 32 cases of COVID-19 among migrant workers, tied mostly to three camps.

As of Saturday, Detroit has 11,547 confirmed cases and 1,441 deaths from the virus.

Hospitals statewide reported 347 inpatients with COVID-19 as of Thursday, including 194 in critical care and 117 on ventilators. That's compared with 324 inpatients a week ago, including 181 in critical care and 91 on ventilators. 

As of Friday, 51,099 people have recovered from the virus.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_