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Michigan adds 3,239 coronavirus cases, 60 deaths linked to COVID-19

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Michigan confirmed 3,239 new cases of the coronavirus and 60 deaths linked to COVID-19 on Monday, including cases from Sunday.

The latest figures bring the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan to 480,508 and deaths to 12,089 since the virus was first detected in March, according to tracking by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The state recorded 568 deaths last week, a decrease from 799 deaths the previous week, following a record of 808 deaths in mid-December.

Jayvion Turner, 4 wearing a Capt. America face mask,  gets presents from Santa Claus, Pastor Curtiss Ostosh with Harvest Time Christian Fellowship of Warren, at the Roseville hotel where they are temporally staying.

Cases also continue to decrease for the fourth straight week. At the end of November, the state had established the weekly record of 50,892 cases.

Last week, Michigan recorded 18,417 cases last week, with an average of 2,447 new confirmed cases per day. That's compared to 30,587 cases two weeks ago, but it's too early to tell if the downward trend will continue, health officials say.

While the state’s prohibition on dining at restaurants may have helped the last few weeks, "as physicians and health care workers, we’re gearing up for another surge after the holidays," said Teena Chopra, a professor of infectious diseases at Wayne State.

Millions of people will have traveled, attended gatherings or both by early January, Chopra said, "and those can add on. As you are well aware, COVID-19 is very, very unforgiving."

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.

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 Wednesday, 3,086 adults were hospitalized statewide with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, including 738 in critical care and 416 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 urged residents not to travel for the holidays as case rates declined and vaccines began to roll out.

Whitmer has 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. Capacity will be capped at 100 people for businesses, 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."

President Donald Trump has signed a $2 trillion-plus COVID-19 and annual federal spending package providing relief for millions of Americans. On Monday, the Democratic-led House is set to vote to boost the $600 payments to $2,000, sending a new bill to the Senate. There, Republicans have the majority but reject more spending and are likely to defeat the effort.

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

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. 

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said the general public should prepare to receive the vaccine by late spring.

The virus is blamed for more than 333,000 deaths and almost 19 million confirmed infections in the United States.

The state considers 318,389 people recovered from the virus as of Wednesday.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_