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Michigan reports largest single-day COVID-19 case count since May

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan was one of 40 states around the country that reported a hike in new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, with 543 confirmedcases representing the state's highest single-day count since May 29.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases per day in the United States climbed to an all-time high of 50,700 on Thursday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

It represents a doubling of the daily total over the past month and is higher than what the country experienced during the most lethal phase of the crisis in April and May, when the New York metropolitan and Detroit areas were among the worst hot spots in the country.

The surge has been blamed in part on Americans not wearing masks or following other social distancing rules as states lifted their lockdowns during the past few weeks.

The jump in new cases came as state officials closed indoor bars and most strip and night clubs to stem the spread of infection in the lower part of Michigan.

The state also reported 14 coronavirus deaths on Thursday, though 13 of those were 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.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's order to shut down indoor service at bars came after increases in cases in the Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo areas and among Michiganians under age 30 in May and June. 

A sign at the Ingham County Medical Care Facility points to the "COVID entrance & exit" on Friday, June 5, 2020.

The restrictions excluded Regions 6 and 8, located in Northwest Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, where cases and deaths have remained low.

“Following recent outbreaks tied to bars, I am taking this action today to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe," Whitmer said Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the country, outbreaks are most severe in Arizona, Texas and Florida, which together with California have re-closed or otherwise clamped back down on bars, restaurants and movie theaters over the past week or so. The Northeast, Nebraska and South Dakota have maintained a downward trend in cases.

“I think we are going to be in a very difficult situation for at least a month,” said Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, an epidemiologist at Florida International University, in one of the hardest-hit states.

The number of reported infections in Michigan has grown over the last two weeks after weeks of decline; however, hospitals overall are not reporting an increase in COVID-19 patients.

Michigan is among 36 states that are experiencing an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus. The percentage of those testing positive for the virus in the Great Lakes state has been relatively flat but ticked up to 3% Wednesday from what had been a 2.5% rate. 

The average number of new cases for the past seven days is up to 338 a day from an average of 241 a day for the previous seven-day period, according to state data. In addition to the 543 cases confirmed Thursday, the state reported 46 probable cases.

Michigan state has tallied 71,678 known cases of COVID-19, including 7,003 probable cases, since the disease was first detected in Michigan in March. 

The state's death toll from the disease is 6,212, including 246 probable deaths. 

The regions of Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo regions in recent days exceeded 20 new cases per million people, a benchmark used to identify a concerning increase in the rate of regional growth.

The Detroit, Kalamazoo, Saginaw and Jackson regions also are seeing spikes, but the rates are below 20 new positive cases per 1 million people.

Hospitalizations statewide are still declining, dropping below 325 Thursday to 315 inpatients with COVID-19, including 180 in critical care and 92 on ventilators. That’s compared to 347 COVID inpatients with a week ago, including 194 in critical care and 117 on ventilators, as reported by hospitals.

The nationwide surge in cases comes as Americans head into a Fourth of July holiday that health officials warn could add fuel to the outbreak by drawing big crowds. Many municipalities have canceled fireworks displays. Beaches up and down California and Florida have been closed.

Florida reported more than 10,000 new cases for the first time Thursday. That is six times higher than the daily count of less than a month ago. The state also reported 67 deaths for the second time in a week and 325 new hospitalizations, one of the biggest 24-hour jumps in Florida yet.

Florida International's Trepka said she is especially concerned about Fourth of July parties.

“The behavior of people this week will be very critical," she said. "People really have to avoid congregating in groups and be sure to wear masks.”

Several Northeastern states have seen new infections slow significantly, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey, which allowed its Atlantic City casinos to reopen Thursday, though with no smoking, drinking or eating.

Pennsylvania, an outlier among Northeastern states, reported its highest one-day total of new cases since May, with more than 830, over one-quarter of them in Pittsburgh's Allegheny County.

Other states, like Colorado, a major summer destination where increases in infections have been less dramatic, are keeping a close eye on their neighbors.

“I’ve been watching that map. Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico. From the Colorado standpoint, we’re well aware of what’s going on around us and we’re very anxious,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, medical director of infection prevention and control at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. “The next couple of weeks are critical.”

President Donald Trump on Wednesday seemed confident the virus would soon subside, telling Fox Business: "I think that, at some point, that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”

The United States has reported at least 2.7 million cases and more than 128,000 dead, the highest toll in the world. Globally there have been 10.7 million confirmed cases and over 517,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins’ count. The true toll is believed to be significantly higher, in part because of limited testing and mild cases that have been missed.

Other countries are also reporting an upswing in cases.

“We have now entered a new and treacherous phase in the life cycle of this pandemic,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa warned in a broadcast to the nation, which recorded more than 8,100 new infections, a one-day record, and has the biggest caseload on the continent.

India, the world’s second-most populous country with more than 1.3 billion people, has reported nearly 100,000 new cases in the past four days alone.

mburke@detroitnews.com

Associated Press contributed.