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Oakland County COVID-19 deaths double overnight

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Pontiac — The number of COVID-19-related deaths doubled overnight in Oakland County, County Executive David Coulter said Monday.

"We had a spike in deaths overnight," he said during a livestreamed news conference. "As of midday today, we have had 59 (deaths from) confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Oakland County," he said. "That's double the number yesterday when we were at 29."

Coulter was joined by county heath officer Leigh-Anne Stafford and Thomas Hardesty, manager of the county's Homeland Security Division.

"These are stunning numbers," Coulter said. "They really reinforce the sense of urgency that we all have to be where we are in this pandemic."

During the news conference, officials announced they have created an online map of the county that shows cases by zip code. The map is available on the Oakland County COVID-19 website and will be updated daily, they said.

Stafford said the map can show the percentage of the population in a zip code testing positive for COVID-19, plus the number of positive cases.

The maps look at home addresses for residents, she said. "We want to really emphasize that even though a zip code has a higher rate than another, that isn't necessarily where a person was exposed."

Coulter said county residents looking at the map shouldn't panic if their zip code has a higher number than another. 

David Coulter, Oakland County Executive, talks about the coronavirus, social distancing and the early closing hours of restaurants and bars during a press conference at M-Brew bar, Monday, March 16, 2020.

"Just because a community has more or fewer cases is not an indication of the relative safety in those communities," he said. "COVID-19 is in every community in Oakland County and it is everywhere."

He said officials can't explain why one area has higher numbers than another. It could be related to access to testing, or general access to health care, Coulter said.

The county reported its first death connected to the pandemic on March 20.

Stafford said the county has 1,391 coronavirus cases as of Monday afternoon. People who have the virus range in age from 14 days old to 97 years old. The 59 deaths in the county related to the virus were in people ranging in age from 36  to 92. Women accounted for 25 of the deaths and men accounted for 34.

"I want to reflect on what it means to have 30 deaths since yesterday," Coulter said. "These are our neighbors, our family members and any of us are at risk of getting COVID-19. It doesn't respect age, race, income or nationality."

He urged Oakland County residents and all Metro Detroiters to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from the virus.

"Please, please, please stay at home," the county executive said. "Follow the governor's orders. Take this seriously. We have not reached our peak yet."

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez