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Michigan confirmed eight coronavirus deaths Friday and 734 new cases of the disease COVID-19. 

The seven-day average of new cases grew to 726 through Friday, compared with an average of 577 a day for the previous seven-day period. 

The state's overall case tally reached 81,621 and the death count hit 6,199, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

When probable cases are included, the death tally is 6,450 and cases total 90,574, including 69 probable cases added Friday. 

Deaths and hospitalizations due to the virus remain relatively low statewide. Hospitals reported 434 COVID-19 inpatients Friday, including 229 in critical care and 144 on ventilators.

That's similar to where things stood two weeks ago, when hospitals reported 439 COVID inpatients, 209 in critical care and 88 on ventilators. 

In recent weeks, top state officials have cautioned about the growing number of new COVID cases in Michigan and urged residents to wear masks and practice social distancing so schools can reopen to in-person instruction in the fall.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday reimposed limits in the Upper Peninsula and 17 counties in northern Michigan, capping indoor gatherings at 10 people and closing indoor bars where alcohol accounts for 70% of sales — restrictions already in force in the southern part of the state.

The 17 northern Michigan counties and Upper Peninsula where Whitmer tightened restrictions have had only two confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the last two weeks and are reporting fewer new cases per capita than most other regions of the state. However, the region's overall case total has shot up in recent weeks.

The state health department has detected increases in cases related to travel in the northern areas of the state and reports of community spread there since early July, and reimposing some restrictions is an effort to reduce further spread of the virus, officials said.

Despite low death and hospitalization counts, certain counties Up North are "on fire" with COVID-19, Dr. Robert Van Howe, interim medical director for Western U.P. Health Department, told The Detroit News.

"We’re working hard to get people to wear their masks. We need to take this even more seriously than we did in April and May," Van Howe said. "It wasn’t here then. It’s here now."

Michigan is No. 14 among the states when ranked for COVID-19 cases and eighth for deaths linked the virus, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.

mburke@detroitnews.com

Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed

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