More 'substantial' COVID-19 transmission in Michigan, CDC says

The Detroit News

Michigan on Wednesday joined nearly a third of other states listed as having "substantial" community transmission for COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Its map showed most of southern lower Michigan, from Allegan County on the west side to Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties on the west, in the substantial category for the week between July 28 and Tuesday. That means 50-99.99 total new cases per 100,000 people, a positivity rate between 8% to 9.99%, or both, in the past seven days.

According to the CDC website, the state had 56.7 cases per 100 in the last seven days, with a positivity rate of 5-7.9%. There were 975 new cases, with a seven-day average of 808, the CDC reported.

Some 40 of Michigan's 83 counties have "substantial" or "high" transmission rates. Seven — Alpena, Branch, Charlevoix, Huron, Iosco, Kalkaska and Montmorency —  ranked "high," meaning more than 100 new cases per 100,000, a test positivity rate of at least 10%, or both, according to CDC data Wednesday.

There were 16 states, or 28.07% of the country, with substantial transmission through Wednesday, according to the agency. There were 36 states, or 63% of the U.S., with high transmission.

Also on Wednesday, officials announced evictions in the city of Detroit as well as in Wayne County have been stopped as virus risk levels rise.

The hold results from a ban through Oct. 3 by the CDC that went into effect late Tuesday, three days after a federal moratorium on evictions expired in Michigan, on evictions in areas that meet the CDC's requirement of “substantial" and "high" levels of virus transmissions.

In a summary dated July 30, the CDC noted "COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are once again increasing in nearly all states, fueled by the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, which is much more contagious than past versions of the virus."

Weekly case totals in Michigan have been rising for four weeks, state health officials said. Last week, the state added 4,012 cases and 38 deaths from the virus, an increase from the previous week, when Michigan added 2,323 cases and 35 deaths from the virus.

Some hospital officials have expressed alarm about rising cases.

On Wednesday, Dr. Adnan Munkarah, executive vice president and CEO at Henry Ford Health System, said 48 patients were hospitalized at Henry Ford for COVID-19, doubling the admissions from a week earlier, which he called a “very concerning trend." Most of the hospitalizations are patients who are unvaccinated, he said.

Meanwhile, about 46% of Michigan residents live in counties where the CDC is urging everyone ages 2 and up to wear masks in indoor public places even if they are fully vaccinated.

The rise in cases prompted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration this week to endorse a recommendation for universal masking in K-12 school buildings;  autoworkers and staff at Detroit Three plants in the United States to start wearing masks again beginning Wednesday; and Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and other colleges to announce mask mandates.

Meanwhile, Michigan’s weekly number of people getting an initial COVID-19 shot rose for the third straight week after having consistently dropped for two months.

The increase coincided with the spread of the delta variant, the most contagious coronavirus mutant yet, and a $5 million state sweepstakes designed to incentivize vaccinations.

There were about 41,000 first-dose immunizations last week, the most since the week of June 13-19. Fewer people received an initial dose in July than in June – roughly 192,000 vs. approximately 167,000 – but officials said Wednesday that vaccination rates always are lower in mid-summer.

Nearly 64% of Michigan residents ages 16 and up have received at least one dose. The state’s goal is 70%.

The Associated Press contributed.