Michigan surpasses 18,000 deaths from COVID-19

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Michigan surpassed 18,000 deaths from COVID-19 Thursday as the state continues to experience a downward trend of new infections and hospitalizations.

The state on Thursday added 3,514 new cases and 115 deaths from COVID-19. The latest figures bring Michigan's total number of cases to 858,050 and deaths to 18,054 since the virus was first detected in March 2020, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Cynthia Banks, 47, of Detroit gets her first COVID-19 vaccine shot from Henry Ford Hospital registered nurse Michael Garcia at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit on Thursday. About 51% of Michigan's adults 16 years and older have received one doses of COVID-19 vaccine, while about 40% are fully vaccinated, according to the Michigan health department.

Last week, Michigan added 25,065 new cases and 454 deaths. Cases are decreasing but deaths are rising. Deaths are a lagging indicator of cases and hospitalizations.

During the previous week of April 18-24, Michigan added 34,013 new cases and 449 deaths. During April 11-17, the state added 47,284 cases and 342 deaths.

So far this week, the state has added 13,665 cases and 312 deaths.

The weekly record of 50,892 cases was set in the week of Nov. 15-21. The second highest weekly total was 47,316 the week of Nov. 22-28.

The weekly record of 808 deaths was recorded in mid-December.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the "MI Vacc to Normal" plan Thursday to tie the future of COVID-19 restrictions to the percentage of residents who have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and former pro basketball player Jalen Rose talk during a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit on Thursday.

About 51% of the state's residents over age 16 have received at least one dose of vaccine. The governor's plan includes four steps to gradually remove restrictions, beginning two weeks after 55% of adults are vaccinated. The final step, two weeks after 5.7 million residents, or 70% of the adult population, receive their first dose the state will lift its gathering and face mask orders, she said.

"While the daily case count, test positivity are still not where we want them to be, we’re headed in the right direction,” Whitmer said.

Michigan's latest data

The state continues to lead the nation at 252 cases per 100,000 people — a decrease from 330 cases per capita last week and a high of 519 cases per capita earlier in April — outpacing Minnesota at 191 cases per 100,000 people and Colorado at 190 cases per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The seven-day average percentage of COVID-19 tests bringing positive results is 11%.

Laquilla Dantzler of Detroit gets her first COVID-19 vaccine shot from registered nurse Leandra Perry of Henry Ford Health System on Thursday, May 6.

Southwest Michigan, the Grand Rapids area and the Upper Peninsula are experiencing the fastest growth in COVID-19 cases. Saginaw has an infection rate of more than 15%. 

Those ages 10-19 and 20-29 have the highest case rates in the state, followed by 20-29, then 30-39.

From January to April, there have been 291 outbreaks from youth sports resulting in 1,217 infections, with the most clusters from basketball, hockey and wrestling. There were also 311 new outbreaks last week in K-12 schools.

► More: Rare COVID-19 complication is putting kids in Michigan's ICUs

The state also has the fifth-highest death rate in the United States, according to the CDC's COVID data tracker.

About five states are seeing an increase in cases and 14 states are seeing weekly increases in hospitalizations. Michigan, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Delaware have the highest per-capita hospitalized patient numbers.

About 16% of hospital beds are filled with COVID-19 patients.

As of Wednesday, 2,695 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 724 in an intensive care unit and 477 on ventilators. That's a 35% drop from April 19 when hospitalizations peaked with 4,158 inpatients.

Twenty-one hospitals in Michigan are at 90% or more capacity, as of Wednesday. Beaumont Hospital in Wayne and Henry Ford Macomb Hospital are at full capacity, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

Sparrow Health System hit a high point of hospitalizations on April 13, with 142 COVID-19 patients at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing and 150 patients system-wide, spokesman John Foren said. By Tuesday, the system was down to 79 COVID-19 patients, including 72 patients at the Lansing hospital, he said.

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 Wednesday, Michigan has the second-highest number of cases of the variant B.1.1.7 with 6,857 cases.

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. There are 519 cases of the variant within the Michigan Department of Corrections.

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 38 cases of the variant.

The first case of the P.1 variant from Brazil was identified in a Bay County resident. There are now 88 confirmed cases of P.1.

There are also 249 confirmed cases of B.1.427 and B.1.429, two variants formed in California.

On Friday, the state identified the first case of B.1.617 in Clinton County. The variant was initially detected in India in October.

Wayne County has the largest spread of the B.1.1.7 variant with more than 556 cases including 229 in Detroit. Wayne, Washtenaw, Macomb and Genesee counties have five of six variants. Clinton County has all the reported variants. 

Vaccines available for all 16-plus

As of Tuesday, the state has administered 7 million of 9.7 million doses distributed. 

The state's fully vaccinated population includes 67% of all seniors 65 years and older, 46% of people aged 50 to 64, 31% of people age 40 to 49, and 28% of people age 30 to 39, according to the state's data tracker.

Canadian health officials said Wednesday they've approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids as young as 12. Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford's vice president and chief clinical officer, said Thursday U.S. approval is expected in the coming days.

"Especially, if you think of how children were undoubtingly impacted by this last surge, we welcome it," he said.

The state ranks eighth in the nation for the number of people who are fully vaccinated. But the number of vaccinations administered in Michigan in the last week has dropped significantly, and supply has outpaced demand for the vaccines, according to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

Jalen Rose and Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist arrive at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

“The MI Vacc to Normal challenge outlines steps we can take to emerge from this pandemic as we hit our vaccination targets together,” Whitmer said. “On our path to vaccinating 70% of Michiganders 16 and up, we can take steps to gradually get back to normal while keeping people safe. 

"If you haven’t already, I encourage you to rise to the challenge and be a part of the solution, so we can continue our economic recovery and have the summer we all crave.” 

In Detroit, vaccination rates lag as about 31% of residents have received one dose, according to the city's COVID-19 dashboard. That's compared to 55% of residents in outer-Wayne County, 59% in Oakland County, 49% in Macomb County and 61% in Washtenaw County.

To ramp up vaccinations Detroit is offering "good neighbor" incentives and walk-up vaccination clinics at the TCF Center, Farewell Recreational Center, Northwest Activities Center and the Samaritan Center. No appointment is needed.

The virus is blamed for more than 579,000 deaths and 32 million confirmed infections in the U.S.

The state is tracking 1,277 active outbreaks including 73 new school outbreaks since last week at educational institutions including K-12 public and private schools.

Another 26 outbreaks were in long-term care facilities, 28 outbreaks were in day care and child care programs, 26 in manufacturing and 22 in restaurant and retail.

The state considers 660,124 people recovered from the virus as of Friday.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_