Michigan surpasses 14,000 deaths from COVID-19

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Michigan surpassed 14,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus Thursday although the state is no longer among the 10 states with the highest rates of death from COVID.

The state added 2,165 new cases of the coronavirus and 148 deaths on Thursday.

The latest figures bring the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan to 544,311 and deaths to 14,053 since the virus was first detected in March, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

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.

Data on hospitalizations, testing and new cases all trended in hopeful directions last week as the state appears to be moving past a second wave that hit in late November. The percentage of COVID-19 tests bringing positive results dropped to 6.7%, down from 8.9% the week before.

The state also recorded 16,452 new cases last week, a decline from 21,955 new cases the week prior. At the end of November, the state established the weekly record of 50,892 cases.

The current phase allows for the 65 and older age group to receive a vaccine as well as front-line workers such as first responders, some state and federal workers and jail and prison staff, but many health departments and hospitals say they do not have enough vaccine to meet the demand. Pre-K through 12th-grade teachers and childcare providers also are eligible for vaccinations. 

Vaccines continue to be distributed to health care workers and nursing home residents. Supplies are limited and are running out within seven days of Michigan receiving them, and "That is a good thing," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.

► More: Gov. Whitmer unveils $5.6B recovery plan targeted at schools, businesses

The state received requests for 444,306 doses of the vaccine, but only received an allocation of 258,100 doses this week from the federal government to allocate; 117,850 first doses and 140,250-second doses, said Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the state health department on Tuesday.

John Baker, a 102-year-old World War II veteran born during the 1918 pandemic, receives the COVID-19 vaccination, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Novi.

Whitmer's administration also announced its "working plan" is to begin allowing indoor dining at restaurants and bars on Feb. 1.

The plan will include capacity limits and a curfew, and the "ultimate decision depends on COVID-19 data continuing to stabilize," according to a press release from Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services identified the state's first case of the new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7., on Saturday in an adult woman living in Washtenaw County.

The woman recently traveled to the United Kingdom, where the variant originated, according to an announcement from the department. The person's close contacts have been informed and are in quarantine.

► More: What we know about the COVID variant found in Michigan

The latest data

During the week of Jan. 16, Michigan flipped from the 24th-highest number of cases in the nation to the 23th-highest. The state dropped from having the eighth-highest death rate to the 14th-highest, according to the Centers for Disease Control's COVID data tracker.

Michigan ranks 34th in the nation for most hospitalizations and 16th for most patients in intensive care units, according to Becker's Hospital Review.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve a requirement that people wear masks during indoor and outdoor gatherings as COVID-19 infections surge in the state.

In Michigan, 10.7% of hospital beds are occupied by coronavirus patients, health officials said.

As of Wednesday, the state reported 2,048 adults hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19, down 40% from the total five weeks earlier. Of the patients, 396 in critical care and 214 on ventilators, with ICU beds at 74% capacity, according to state data.

Across states, 46 states are seeing significate outbreaks. The most rapid one-week case growth includes Virginia, Maine, Washington, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

While Arizona, Nevada, Alabama, Nevada, California, and Georgia have the highest rates of hospitalizations, the Midwest states including Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan are showing a slow continuous decline, according to the state's data.

Active cases remain most prevalent in Wayne County, with 63,577 cases and additional 27,787 cases in Detroit. Oakland County has 67,987 cases, and Macomb has 53,878.

The state's case tracker also noted Genesse, Ingham, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa, Saginaw and Washtenaw counties have high case rates.

Vaccines rolled out in phases

Vaccination will take place in different phases that occur simultaneously, the state said.

The vaccines will be rolled out in phases. The first priorities for vaccination in Michigan will be frontline healthcare workers and people living and working in long-term care facilities.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, said the process will take several months to complete at the current rate, but the general public should prepare to receive the vaccine by late spring.

► More: What to know about getting vaccinated for COVID-19 in Michigan

“We are working hard to bring more vaccines into Michigan and identify additional locations for people who want to be vaccinated. Please don’t show up to any location without an appointment," she said.

The virus is blamed for more than 406,000 deaths and 24 million confirmed infections in the United States.

Officials are tracking at least 774 active outbreaks as of Jan. 14, a decline from 887 outbreaks last week. Of the outbreaks, 128 were reported the second week of January, including 37 at long-term care facilities.

Top categories for outbreaks continue to be manufacturing and construction sites, healthcare, retail, schools and social gatherings.

The state reported nine additional school outbreaks on Monday, adding to a list of 67 school outbreaks.

The state considers 442,408 people recovered from the virus as of Friday.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_