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Michigan sets record for daily COVID-19 cases, adds 84 deaths

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Michigan's autumn COVID-19 surge continues to worsen, with the state setting another daily case record Tuesday with 6,473 new infections and 84 deaths.

Of the deaths Tuesday, 25 were identified during a delayed records review, the state said.

The additions bring the state's total number of confirmed cases to 223,277 and total confirmed deaths to 7,724, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Tuesday's numbers broke a Saturday record of 6,225 cases and 65 deaths and marked the third case record set in a week. 

Cassandra Brown watches as a Sunset Hills River Rest Cemetery groundskeeper rakes the gravesite of her son Freddie Lee Brown, III and her husband, Freddie Lee Brown, Jr., in Grand Blanc, April 10, 2020. Due. to the coronavirus, no one was allowed at the grave site until both casket vaults were covered with dirt. Both men died from the virus in March, three days apart from one another.

Michigan’s record for deaths was reached on April 16 with 164. Deaths stayed near single digits each day from July through September but spiked again with 10-18 per day in early October. Deaths rose on Oct. 23 with 34; 43 on Nov. 3; 51 on Thursday; 65 Saturday, and 84 Tuesday.

Last week marked another record: the state set new weekly highs, adding 29,614 cases and 221 deaths from the virus, shattering the record of 20,154 set the week prior. It marked the fourth consecutive weekly record for case numbers.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said last week that she's "very concerned" about what she's seeing across Michigan. The state's averaging 261 cases per million people, and new cases are five times the number recorded in early September.

"We've performed 43,000 diagnostic tests per day over the past week; however, the percent of those tests that are coming back positive is increasing and is 7.5% and has been increasing for the past five weeks," Khaldun said. Experts prefer a positivity rate of 3% as a benchmark to show the spread is limited.

Regionally, the Upper Peninsula has had the highest case rate at 509 cases per million, which has been increasing for nine weeks straight. Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo have 370 and 331 cases per million, respectively, and both regions have the highest test positivity rate in the state at above 9%.

The Detroit, Saginaw, Lansing and Traverse City regions all have more than 200 cases per million and between 5.5% and 7.7% positivity rates. The Jackson region has the lowest case rate at 193 cases per million and a positivity rate at 4.1%.

Local health departments are investigating 590 outbreaks across the state, the largest since the beginning of the pandemic. They're occurring in long-term care, schools, manufacturing, constructions, health care and social gatherings, the state said last week.

The United States added 119,940 cases and 472 deaths Tuesday, totaling 10.1 million cases and 238,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc. said Monday that early results from its coronavirus vaccine suggest the shots may be a surprisingly robust 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, putting the company on track to apply later this month for emergency-use approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Still, Monday’s announcement doesn’t mean for certain that a vaccine is imminent: This interim analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries. Some participants got the vaccine, while others got dummy shots.

Pfizer cautioned the protection rate might change by the time the study ends. Even revealing such early data is highly unusual.

While testing for the virus has increased greatly, Michigan is also seeing upticks in hospitalizations and deaths linked to the virus.

As of Friday, the state reported 2,088 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases of the virus. Of those hospitalized, 202 people were on ventilators and 484 were in intensive care units. The state also reported 323 people hospitalized with suspected virus cases.

"Hospitalizations are almost four times more than we saw at the end of August," Khaldun said. "We're not yet seeing hospitalizations we saw in the spring but they are rapidly rising. About 60% of COVID hospitalizations are occurring outside of southeast Michigan."

As hospitalizations increase, officials expect deaths to follow within weeks.

"Our seven-day average for deaths is 19, twice what it was at the beginning of September. We have models that estimate if we don't do anything else, if we don't change our behaviors, we could be seeing 100 deaths a day by the end of December," Khaldun said. "We are really at a tipping point right now."

Michigan recorded 50 new school outbreaks, adding to a list of 150 ongoing outbreaks, the state said Monday.

There were 31 new outbreaks linked to long-term care facilities such as nursing facilities, assisted living centers, adult day cares and group homes, that add to the 75 outbreaks that were previously reported and are ongoing. 

The long-term care facilities account for 10,344 resident cases and 2,593 resident deaths. More than 6,442 staff members also have confirmed cases and have accounted for 24 staff member deaths.

As of Friday, Michigan considered 128,981 people to have recovered from the virus. 

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_