Michigan adds 15,385 cases, 351 deaths from COVID-19 over two days

Sarah Rahal Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Michigan added 15,385 new COVID-19 cases and 351 deaths linked to the virus on Wednesday, including cases from Tuesday.

The additions bring the state's totals to 1,368,541 confirmed cases and 24,845 deaths tied to the virus since the pandemic began in March 2020. The state averaged 7,693 new cases over the two days. Of the latest deaths reported, 185 were identified during a vital records review, state health officials noted.

So far this week, the state has added 31,975 new cases and 478 deaths.

The CDC projects Michigan's weekly tally could reach as high as 1,000 deaths, but will likely remain at around 500-600 deaths each week of January.

The CDC projects Michigan's weekly tally could reach as high as 1,000 deaths, but will likely stay near 500 deaths.

Michigan hit a new record of adults hospitalized with confirmed cases of the virus Monday at 4,356, a 4% increase from the tally a week earlier. The tally has been trending upward since July and has lingered above 4,000 for more than a week.

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, said she visited St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital in Howell on Monday and compared what she saw to a "war zone."

"There are way too many people in the hospital," Slotkin said in a video posted on social media. "The beds are oversubscribed. As we walk through the hallways of the ICU, you can see patients lining the hallways terribly ill. They do not have a space to go in because COVID patients are taking up every single room. Their ICU is beyond full."

During the surge in the winter of 2020, the number of adults hospitalized with confirmed infections peaked at 3,884 on Dec. 1. During the surge in the spring of 2021, the count was above 4,000 for only a handful of days.

Based on recent data from most Michigan health systems, Michigan's Health and Hospital Association found that three out of four COVID patients are unvaccinated (76%), 87% of COVID ICU patients are unvaccinated and 88% of COVID ventilator patients are unvaccinated.

“The data is clear: if you are unvaccinated, you are risking hospitalization or death,” Elizabeth Hertel, director of Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services, said in a Thursday statement. “We have a safe and effective vaccine that is quite literally saving lives. Michigan residents absolutely need to get vaccinated to keep their loved ones safe this holiday.”

Michigan broke the weekly record of new cases Nov. 13-19, setting a seven-day total of 53,575 — a new high not seen through the entirety of the coronavirus pandemic. 

MDHHS issued an advisory earlier in November recommending people wear masks at indoor gatherings regardless of their vaccination status. It will remain in effect until further notice.

The state also encouraged businesses to impose policies to ensure that all people entering, including employees, wear masks and advised individuals who are not fully vaccinated or who are immunocompromised to avoid large crowds or gatherings.

More than a year ago on Nov. 15, 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her administration's "pause to save lives," bringing wide-ranging restrictions limiting gatherings at high schools, colleges and restaurants to combat what she described as the "worst moment" yet in the COVID-19 pandemic. Those restrictions ended in June.

But the uptick in cases and deaths has not resulted in any new mandates at the state level. Whitmer officials have preferred to encourage local and county officials to issue public health orders such as mask mandates. 

Michigan's latest data

Michigan remains at a high transmission rate and the state's percent of tests returning positive has increased from last week. Michigan reported the second-most cases in the country over the last seven days.

The Michigan Health and Hospital Association sounded the alarm last week over the hospitalizations. 

John Karasinski, a spokesman of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, has said the growth is concerning as hospitals have experienced a 40% increase in daily emergency department patients since October 2020. Overall bed occupancy in Michigan hospitals is 10% higher than what Michigan experienced in the fall surge when the state peaked Dec. 1, 2020, with 4,283 COVID-19 hospitalizations, he said.

About 61.5%, or 6.16 million, residents have received their first doses of a vaccine, as of Monday.

Roll out of the vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds is occurring after Pfizer's vaccine for children was approved by the FDA and more than 840,000 children of that age are in Michigan. So far, more than 133,000 children, or 16.2%, have received their first dose in Michigan.

More than 1.6 million booster doses of the vaccine have been administered in Michigan. The majority of boosters administered have been concentrated in southeast Michigan. Oakland County has the most boosters administered, according to state tracking data.

Approximately 2% of those fully vaccinated have been reported with a breakthrough infection, according to the state health department.

There were 107 new outbreaks from last week mainly at schools, daycares and long-term care facilities for a total of 716 ongoing outbreaks. Transmission levels remain highest for those aged 30-39.

There were 46 new outbreaks at K-12 schools in Michigan last week for a total of 511 ongoing outbreaks. About 7% of school districts have rescinded their school mask policies bringing the total to 42% of school districts mandating masks.

Case rates among children are higher in counties where school districts do not have mask policies, according to the state health department.

In Michigan, over 50% of children hospitalized for the virus have no reported underlying conditions.

Outbreaks have led to an increase in multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. MIS-C is a condition in children where multiple organ systems become inflamed or dysfunctional. There are 183 cases in the state, and the majority, or 71%, are in the ICU. There have been five deaths.

The delta variant, which is estimated to be twice as infectious as the original strain, is attributable to nearly all new coronavirus cases. 

On Friday, the World Health Organization designated a new “variant of concern,” stemming from South Africa and naming it “omicron” after a letter in the Greek alphabet.

South Africa Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was linked to an “exponential rise” of cases in the last few days.

From just over 200 new confirmed cases per day in recent weeks, South Africa saw the number of new daily cases rocket to more than 3,200 Saturday. It's unclear when the omicron variant first emerged but has now been identified in travelers arriving in several countries, from Australia to Israel to the Netherlands.

The virus is blamed for more than 790,000 deaths and 49.4 million confirmed infections in the United States.

The state considered 1,126,184 million people recovered from the virus as of Dec. 3. 



Twitter: @SarahRahal_