Michigan adds 2,048 cases, 27 deaths from COVID-19

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Michigan on Tuesday added 2,048 cases and 27 deaths from COVID-19 as the state surpassed more than 3 million doses of vaccine administered.

The latest figures bring the total number of cases to 612,628 and deaths to 15,810 since the virus was first detected in March 2020, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Literacy specialist Nancy Haboush, of Troy, works with this student during his reading recovery program as he reads behind a plexiglass, tri-fold desk shield.

Last week, the state recorded 11,383 cases and 109 deaths from the virus, the third straight week of increasing cases but a decrease in deaths.

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In the first week of March, the state recorded 8,473 cases and 144 deaths, an increase from 7,662 cases and a decrease from 163 deaths from the last week of February.

The state has seen an 84% decrease in cases from the mid-November peak but has exceeded early October rates again, according to the state health department.

At the end of November, the state established the weekly record of 50,892 cases. The weekly record of 808 deaths was recorded in mid-December.

The latest numbers come as Michigan expands eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccines to residents 50 years and older who have pre-existing conditions or disabilities that put them at greater risk of suffering severe virus symptoms. 

On March 22, eligibility will be opened to all residents age 50 years and older and people age 16 to 49 with certain medical conditions or disabilities.

All Michigan residents age 16 and older become eligible on April 5, the state said Friday. President Joe Biden had asked states to open eligibility to all adults by May 1.

Data on hospitalizations, testing and new cases have increased in the past two weeks after the state appeared to be moving past a second wave that hit in late November. The percentage of COVID-19 tests bringing positive results rose to 4.1% last week from 3.4% one month ago, Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said.

"We are starting to see a slight reversal in the progress we've made," she said Wednesday. "We need to double down as we continue to make progress in vaccinating 2.9 million residents."

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One region, the Upper Peninsula, is below 3% and all of the state's 83 counties have a positivity rate below 10%, according to the state.

During the week of March 6, Michigan jumped from having the 16th highest number of cases in the nation to the 12th highest. The state also has the 20th highest death rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control's COVID data tracker.

Deaths have declined for 11 straight weeks and are a lagging indicator of cases and hospitalizations, state health officials say.

In Michigan, 4% of hospital beds are occupied by coronavirus patients.

Hospitalizations are up 9% since last week, the second consecutive week they have risen.

As of Monday, the state has 1,079 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, with 278 in intensive care units and 115 on ventilators. 

New York, Georgia, New Jersey, Texas and Missouri have the highest per capita hospitalized patient numbers.

State health department officials remain cautious as new variants of COVID-19 spread through populated communities. The variants are identified through target testing and state officials expect there are cases of variants that have not been identified or recorded.

As of Monday, Michigan has the second-most recorded cases of the virus variant B.1.1.7. with 634 cases in 31 jurisdictions, although 380 cases are within the Michigan Department of Corrections. Florida has the most, with 738 cases of the variant.

Washtenaw has 49 cases of B.1.1.7., Wayne County has 28 and Detroit has 12.

The MDOC outbreak started at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia and has spread to 20 employees at the facility, the state said.

The first case of the variant was identified in January in a University of Michigan student who had traveled from the United Kingdom. The variant has spread significantly in Washtenaw and Wayne counties. An outbreak of 90 cases at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia County appears to be the largest cluster of the variant and has spread to two other Michigan prisons, corrections officials said.

The first case of the South African variant B.1.351 was confirmed by the state Bureau of Laboratories in a boy living in Jackson County Monday. The state is investigating to figure out his close contacts and whether he has spread the variant.

"We are a year into fighting this virus, but we are not yet done,” Khaldun said on Wednesday. "We are identifying more and more cases of the variants and if these new variants become more prevalent, we risk a rise in cases and deaths."

Vaccines rolled out in phases

Preliminary COVID-19 vaccination timeline from the state health department.

As vaccines continue to be rolled out in phases, the state said it remains committed to having 50,000 shots administered per day as supplies increase, with a goal to get 70% of the population ages 16 and older, about 5.6 million people, vaccinated "as soon as possible." 

People over the age of 50, regardless of health condition, are eligible to begin receiving the vaccine starting March 22, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The state also will open eligibility, starting Monday, to caregiver families and guardians caring for children with special health needs.

The Macomb County Health Department was the first county to expand eligibility to medical conditions or disabilities age 16 or older and their caregivers on Saturday.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer eased some COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, nursing homes and other gatherings, including doubling capacity limits at restaurants from 25% to 50%.

In addition, the new order will extend the curfew for Michigan restaurants from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. and soften its restrictions on retailers, gyms, some events and residential gatherings. It will also allow family members who test negative for COVID-19 to visit relatives in nursing homes, Whitmer said.

The current phase allows for the 65 and older age group to receive a dose of vaccine as well as front-line workers such as first responders, some state and federal workers, workers in food processing and jail and prison staff. Pre-K through 12th-grade teachers and childcare providers also are eligible for vaccinations.

The state is 29th in the nation for doses administered. 

According to data on Michigan's vaccine website, more than 3 million doses have been administered out of more than 3.7 million doses shipped to Michigan.

As of Sunday, about 24.4% of Michigan's population has at least one dose and 13.7% of residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state.

The virus is blamed for more than 535,000 deaths and 29 million confirmed infections in the U.S.

The number of outbreaks has increased by 3% since last week.

New school outbreaks have increased since last week, with 58 reported Monday at education institutions including K-12 public and private schools, colleges and school administrative buildings.

Of the new outbreaks, 52 were in K-12 buildings, three were in school administrative buildings and three were at undergraduate colleges.

Of the 52 cases in K-12 buildings, 34 were in high schools, 12 in junior high/middle schools and six in preschool/elementary buildings.

Among the largest outbreaks: 17 cases among students and staff at Handy Middle School in Bay City and 17 cases among students and staff at Lutheran Northwest in Rochester Hills.

Another 22 outbreaks were in daycare and childcare programs.

The state considers 556,697 people recovered from the virus as of Friday.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_