Michigan adds 3,443 cases, 70 deaths linked to COVID-19

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
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Michigan on Wednesday confirmed 3,443 new cases of the coronavirus and 70 deaths linked to COVID-19.

The latest figures bring the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan to 469,928 and deaths to 11,775 since the virus was first detected in March, according to tracking by the state Department of Health and Human Services. 

Signs for face coverings were posted on walls of Twelve Oaks Mall on Black Friday.

The state recorded 799 deaths last week, following a record of 808 deaths the prior week.

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.

Cases continued to decrease for the third straight week. Last week, Michigan recorded 28,072 new cases, a decline from 30,587 new cases the previous week. At the end of November, the state had established the weekly record of 50,892 cases.

During the week of Dec. 19, Michigan dropped from the 13-highest number of cases to the 15th-highest in the nation. The state continues to rank as the fifth-highest for the number of deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control's COVID data tracker.

Michigan ranks 24th in the nation for most hospitalizations and ninth for most patients in intensive care units, according to Becker's Hospital Review.

As of Tuesday, 3,136 adults were hospitalized statewide with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, including 731 in critical care and 426 on ventilators, with ICU beds at 78% capacity, according to state data. That's compared with about 3,650 COVID inpatients a month ago, including 500 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.

On Friday, she extended indoor dining restrictions through Jan. 15 while allowing reopening of casinos, bowling alleys, stadiums and permitting 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."

► More: Gov. Whitmer: More 'aggressive' reopening steps possible after Jan. 1

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said she's cautiously optimistic as the state's positivity rates have declined from 12.5% to 10% over the past seven days. A positivity rate above 3% is concerning to public health officials.

The 30 to 49 age group continues to have the highest cases per million, though cases per million have decreased for all age groups over the past five weeks, the state said.

The number of deaths remains "deeply concerning," with about 100 per day, Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said. Deaths are often a "lagging indicator" that decrease some weeks after cases decrease, he said. 

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 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.

The virus is blamed for more than 322,000 deaths and almost 19 million confirmed infections in the United States.

The number of active outbreaks is down 2% from last week, the state said. Officials were tracking at least 1,049 active outbreaks as of Dec. 17. 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 21 additional school outbreaks Monday, adding to a list of 250 school outbreaks.

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

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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