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Michigan coronavirus cases top 70,000

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Michigan health officials confirmed six coronavirus deaths Tuesday and 584 new cases of the disease COVID-19, as the tally of known infections since the start of the outbreak exceeded 70,000.

In addition to the 584 cases confirmed Tuesday, the state reported 82 probable cases.

Infections are still on the rise with the state recording a seven-week high for new cases last week — the total exceeding 3,400.

COVID-19 testing is performed at a former Sears auto center in Lansing on Monday.

The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases in Michigan is up to 495 daily from 394 daily for the previous seven-day period, according to state data. 

Hospitalizations due to the disease are still low relative to their peak in the spring, but health officials are warning they could increase, along with deaths, which hit a four-week high last week with 95 reported. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday extended her emergency declaration into the second week of August, giving her the ability to take unilateral actions to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

State health officials said daily COVID-19 case counts exceed 20 cases per million in the Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo regions.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has zeroed in on the Grand Rapids area in particular as an emerging hot spot. 

The department is sending an interagency COVID-19 response field team to the region to support local and state efforts to identify the root cause of infection spread at the community level, identify best practices and launch broader efforts to stop the spread, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. 

This is the first time such a team has been deployed in Michigan, said Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the state health department.

Kent County had 5,483 known cases of COVID-19 through Tuesday, nearly 500 probable cases and 142 deaths, according to state data. The county has seen a surge in infections in recent weeks, with 1,580 cases confirmed since June 1.

In other hot spots, the federal interagency teams have looked at addressing the need for adequate data, assess testing capabilities and plans, and protecting vulnerable populations like seniors.

Michigan's growth in infections is part of a national trend, with cases on the rise in 39 states, officials said. 

“COVID-19 still poses a threat to families across Michigan, and it’s crucial that Governor Whitmer continue to take swift action to save lives,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive, said in a statement. 

“Michiganders should all continue to do their part by wearing a mask and practicing safe physical distancing. We will get through this when we work together.”  

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed 70,306 cases of COVID-19 and 6,081 deaths through Tuesday. When probable cases are included, Michigan's case total is 77,864 and the death toll is 6,326. 

Some hospitals are starting to see an uptick in COVID-19 inpatients in Michigan, with 415 reported hospitalized statewide as of Tuesday, including 190 in critical care and 109 on ventilators.

That’s a 21% increase compared with a week ago, when hospitals statewide reported 342 COVID inpatients, including 185 in critical care and 87 on ventilators. In mid-April, Michigan had 3,900 hospitalized with COVID-19.

The percentage of those testing positive for the virus grew from 2% in recent weeks to 3.4% last week — a six-week high. It was reported at 4% Monday.

Michigan ranks 13th in the nation for its reported cases of COVID-19 and seventh for deaths, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University. 

mburke@detroitnews.com