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Michigan surpasses 11,000 deaths from COVID-19

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Michigan surpassed 11,000 deaths linked to the virus Wednesday, as vaccines begin to be distributed to the most-vulnerable residents.

The state confirmed 4,037 new cases and 83 deaths more deaths linked to COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The latest figures bring the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan to 446,752 and deaths to 11,018 since the virus was first detected in March, according to tracking by the state Department of Health and Human Services. 

Beaumont Health COO Carolyn Wilson gives COVID-19 shots to the first Beaumont health care workers at the Beaumont Service Center in Southfield on Dec. 15, 2020.

The state recorded 808 deaths last week, following a daily record of 206 deaths set on Saturday.

State officials have said they expect the number of fatalities to increase during the holiday season and are urging residents to avoid social gatherings to stem the spread of infection.

Last week, Michigan recorded 30,587 new cases, a decline from 45,015 cases from the previous week. At the end of November, the state had established the weekly record of 50,892 cases.

During the first week of December, Michigan recorded the seventh-highest number of cases and fourth-highest number of deaths in the nation, according to the CDC's COVID data tracker.

Michigan ranks sixth in the nation for most hospitalizations and seventh for the most patients in intensive care units, according to Becker's Hospital Review.

As of Saturday, 3,739 adults were hospitalized statewide with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, including 860 in critical care and 514 on ventilators, with ICU beds at 81% capacity, according to state data. That's compared to about 2,936 COVID inpatients hospitalized a month ago, including 595 in the ICU.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday urged residents not to travel for the holidays as case rates decline and vaccines begin to roll out.

"Over the weekend the first shipments of the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine left Portage Michigan and in the next week, we expect the Moderna vaccine to be approved," Whitmer said. "The CEO of Moderna shared with us that doctors are asking what vaccine should they take? And his answer is 'to take whichever vaccine is available to you,'

"These are safe and effective," she said.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said Tuesday that she's cautiously optimistic as the state's positivity rates have declined from 14% to 12.3% over the past seven days. A positivity rate above 3% is concerning to public health officials.

"We can’t forget our case rates remain alarmingly high. Positive tests are still four-times as high from September," Khaldun said. "The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective and it works. It will take several months to be an end to this pandemic."

The Moderna vaccine uses the same technology as Pfizer-BioNTech's and showed similarly strong protection against COVID-19 but is easier to handle because it does not need to be kept in the deep freeze at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whitmer extended restrictions through Sunday, limiting gatherings at high schools, colleges and restaurants to combat what she described as the "worst moment" yet in the pandemic. She did not indicate Tuesday whether the restrictions would be further extended.

The policies temporarily halt in-person instruction at high schools and colleges, indoor dine-in service at restaurants and bars, and high school athletics as well as close some businesses, including movie theaters, bowling alleys and casinos.

► More: First COVID-19 vaccinations administered in Michigan

The vaccines will be rolled out in phases. The first priorities for vaccination in Michigan will be front-line healthcare workers and people living and working in long-term care facilities. Khaldun said the general public should prepare to receive the vaccine by late spring.

Attorney General Dana Nessel said Tuesday the public should shop local when possible and beware of COVID-19 vaccine scams. Her office has been made aware of retailers selling fake COVID-19 tests and services that promise to cure, treat or prevent the virus, she said.

"Some examples of common scams are retailers who are promising to get the vaccine quickly; others with forms of treatment including pills, herbal teas, or essential oils; personal testimonials; social media messages, texts and emails qualifying for clinical trials," Nessel said. "They'll ask you for money and personal information upfront and include a (malware virus) link for you to download."

The virus is blamed for more than 303,000 deaths and almost 16.7 million confirmed infections in the United States.

The state was tracking at least 1,080 active outbreaks as of Dec. 10. Top categories for outbreaks continue to be long-term care facilities, including nursing homes as well as manufacturing and construction sites, retail and schools.

The state recorded 25 additional school outbreaks Monday, adding to a list of 240 school outbreaks.

The state considers 236,369 people recovered from the virus as of Friday.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_