Michigan adds 4,454 cases, 16 deaths from COVID-19

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Michigan on Wednesday added 4,454 new COVID-19 cases, the largest number of new daily cases since late January.

The latest figures, which include 16 deaths, bring the total number of cases to 637,645 and deaths to 15,935 since the virus was first detected in March 2020, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Seventh graders Hailey Pfeiffle, left, and Josie Sulka practice scale drawings Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 at Northern Hills Middle School in Grand Rapids.

Last week, the state recorded 17,374 cases and 123 deaths from the virus, a 10-week high and an increase of nearly 6,000 cases from the week prior when the state recorded 11,383 cases and 109 deaths from the virus.

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 the last week of February.

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.

On Monday, eligibility 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 will become eligible on April 5, the state said Friday. President Joe Biden had asked states to open eligibility to all adults by May 1.

The percentage of COVID-19 tests bringing positive results has been rising for four weeks and is at 7.4%.

The state has seen a 77% increase in cases since mid-February, mainly attributable to youth sports. Michigan’s stats are reverting back to where the state stood in mid-January when the first variant case of B.1.1.7. was identified, Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said.

"Our progress with COVID-19 is fragile. While we're making great progress with vaccination efforts, what we are seeing now is very concerning data that shows we are going in the wrong direction," Khaldun said. "Cases are increasing in all age groups but the 10-19-year-old age group has seen the largest increase."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said getting vaccinated is how the state will get the cases under control and "we will be able to celebrate our Independence Day together this year."

Whitmer's administration will allow crowds of up to 20% of capacity limits at outdoor stadiums and is imposing new testing requirements for youth sports.

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 20, Michigan jumped from having the 10th highest number of cases in the nation to the 6th highest. The state also has the 14th highest death rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control's COVID data tracker.

Hospitalizations are up 50% since last week, the third consecutive week they have risen.

Hospitalization rates among Michigan adults who haven't received their COVID-19 vaccines are increasing at an "alarming rate," the Michigan Health & Hospital Association warned Wednesday.

As of Tuesday, the state has 1,659 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, with 356 in intensive care units and 133 on ventilators. About 5.5% of hospital beds are filled with COVID-19 patients.

About 18 states are seeing an increase in cases, 10 states are seeing weekly increases in hospitalizations. New York, New Jersey, Florida and Pennsylvania 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 Tuesday, Michigan has the second-most recorded cases of the virus variant B.1.1.7. with 984 cases in 32 jurisdictions. Florida has the most, with 1,042 cases.

The MDOC outbreak started at the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia and has spread to more than 445 detainees and employees, 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. There are a total of two cases of the variant as of Friday.

"We know the variant is spreading in the community," Khaldun said. "I’m concerned about our current numbers. It’s imperative that we protect each other by wearing masks, social distancing... We could potentially be at the beginning of another surge in Michigan."

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 for the vaccine starting Monday, 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 state's largest single-site vaccination effort at Ford Field opened Wednesday and is expected to administer more than 300,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in eight weeks.

The state is ninth in the nation for the number of people fully vaccinated and 36th for the percentage of people who have received their first doses.

According to data on Michigan's vaccine website, more than 3.6 million doses have been administered out of more than 4.3 million doses shipped to the state.

As of Monday, about 29% of Michigan's population has at least one dose and 16.5% of residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state.

The virus is blamed for more than 542,000 deaths and 29 million confirmed infections in the U.S.

The number of outbreaks has increased by 19% since last week.

New school outbreaks have increased since last week, from 162 to 207 at education institutions including K-12 public and private schools, colleges and school administrative buildings.

"This is concerning. Outbreaks in this age group can have an impact on our children's education," Khaldun said. "The most important thing we all want is to have in-person learning."

Another 21 outbreaks were in daycare and childcare programs, 33 in manufacturing and 16 in office settings.

The state considers 562,775 people recovered from the virus as of Friday.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_