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Michigan announces 3,896 new COVID-19 cases, 187 more deaths

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

The state of Michigan on Saturday confirmed 3,896 new cases and 187 more deaths related to COVID-19.

The added figures bring the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Great Lakes State to 458,852 and deaths to 11,461 since the virus was first detected here in mid-March, according to tracking by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The deaths announced Saturday included 155 deaths identified during a vital records review. 

For the third straight week, cases continued to decrease. The state recorded 28,072 new cases and 799 deaths this week, down from 30,587 new cases and 808 deaths with Dec. 12 setting a daily record of 206 deaths.

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's count was 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.

Michigan had the 15th highest number of cases as of Saturday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID data tracker. Last week, it had dropped from the seventh-highest number of cases to the 13th-highest in the nation. The state ranks as the fifth-highest for the number of deaths.

As of Wednesday, 3,547 adults were hospitalized statewide with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, including 818 in critical care and 476 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 is urging residents not to travel for the holidays as case rates decline and vaccines begin to roll out. Frontline health-care workers began receiving their first of two doses this week.

On Friday, she extended indoor dining restrictions through Jan. 15 while allowing reopening of casinos, bowling alleys, stadiums and allowing in-person learning at Michigan high schools as soon as Monday with restrictions. Their capacity will be capped at 100 people, food and drink concessions must remain closed and social distancing must be observed.

“These past few weeks, Michiganders across the state stepped up and did their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, and because of our collective hard work, we are now able to begin the steps to carefully lift some of the protocols we have in place,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I am encouraged by the progress we have made since early November, and will continue to monitor the data closely during and after the holidays."

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

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave a second vaccine from Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health emergency-use authorization. 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.

The vaccines are being rolled out in phases. Frontline health-care workers and people living and working in long-term care facilities are the first priorities. Khaldun said the general public should prepare to receive the vaccine by late spring.

Attorney General Dana Nessel said Tuesday the public should be beware of COVID-19 vaccine scams. Her office has been made aware of retailers selling fake 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 312,000 deaths and almost 17.4 million confirmed infections in the United States.

Officials were tracking at least 1,268 new and ongoing outbreaks as of Monday. Top categories for outbreaks continue to be long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, as well as manufacturing and construction sites, retailers and schools.

The state recorded 25 additional school outbreaks Monday, adding to a list of 162 ongoing school outbreaks.

The state considers 284,731 people recovered from the virus as of Friday.