UM will require COVID-19 vaccine for students living on campus

CDC: Michigan leads all US states in COVID-19 cases per population

Michigan added 5,177 new COVID-19 cases and 48 deaths Tuesday, as Michigan leads all states in new cases per population over the last seven days.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Michigan had 361.5 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, ranking second behind only New York City at 366.5 cases per 100,000 people.

The latest figures bring the total number of cases to 665,948 and deaths to 16,082 since the virus was first detected in March 2020, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The number of Michigan residents in hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 is now increasing at a faster rate than it did in the fall before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shuttered indoor dining and suspended in-person high school classes.

Last week, the state recorded 27,758 new cases and 129 deaths, the fifth weekly increase in a row and the highest weekly total since 28,072 were recorded Dec. 13-19. 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 Tuesday, Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, an infectious disease expert and senior public health physician for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the nation is approaching a "tipping point" in the pandemic because of the many positive developments, from vaccines to rapid testing to mitigation strategies that work.

COVID-19 vaccination clinic traffic is guided along West Jefferson Avenue towards the TCF Center in Detroit on March 24, 2021. The TCF Center parking garage is being used as a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

"But at the same time, the cases in Michigan are rising. We are not heading in the direction we want to be heading. Cases are going up," Bagdasarian said. "The percent positivity is going up, which means there are probably more cases out there that we're missing. And so we really need to be cautious, especially with variants of concern on the horizon."

She acknowledged a lot of people inside and outside of Michigan are wondering about the surge in infections in the state, in part because it was able to blunt its fall surge. She attributed the recent increase to a “confluence” of factors happening at the same time, including people moving around the state more.

“We know that as restrictions eased up, people are moving around more and going into public venues more. So that's part of it. Part of it was opening up event athletics,” Bagdasarian said on a Facebook Live Town Hall with U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township.

Vaccine eligibility currently includes all residents age 50 years and older and people age 16 to 49 with certain medical conditions or disabilities. Detroit opened eligibility Monday to all residents and workers who have to work on-site in the city rather than remotely.

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 five weeks and is at 15%.

Cases among kids ages 10 to 19 have risen 133% in the last four weeks, faster than any other age group as outbreaks continue to rise in schools and youth sports.

"Our progress with COVID-19 is fragile," Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said last week. "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."

Whitmer said getting people 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 is allowing 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.

On Monday Henry Ford Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Adnan Munkarah said there has been a substantial spike in COVID-19 admissions, up 236% since March 3, and the positivity rate among patients is 16%.

Through Monday, the state reported 2,144 adults were hospitalized with the coronavirus, a 53% jump from a week earlier when there were 1,404 hospitalizations. Over the four weeks before Whitmer announced the "Pause to Save Lives" on Nov. 15, the largest percentage increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over a week from Monday to Monday was 45%.

A sign points to a COVID-19 testing site at a Sparrow Health System facility in Lansing on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

About 18 states are seeing an increase in cases and 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. 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 Sunday, Michigan has the second-most recorded cases of the virus variant B.1.1.7. with 1,237 cases in 32 jurisdictions including the Michigan Department of Corrections. Florida has the most, with 2,274 cases. Nationally, there are nearly 11,000 cases of the variant.

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 five cases of the variant as of Sunday.

"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." 

The state's largest single-site vaccination effort at Ford Field opened last week 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 3.9 million doses have been administered out of more than 4.3 million doses shipped to the state.

As of Sunday, about 32.5% of Michigan's population has at least one dose and 19% of residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state.

The virus is blamed for more than 549,000 deaths and 30 million confirmed infections in the U.S.

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

The state had 70 new school outbreaks since last week 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 25 outbreaks were in daycare and childcare programs, 30 in manufacturing and 10 in office settings.

The state considers 569,460 people recovered from the virus as of Friday.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_