COVID-19 death toll in Michigan rises to 3

A woman in her 50s at McLaren Oakland hospital in Pontiac and an 81-year-old woman cared for at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit became the second and third patients in Michigan to die from the coronavirus, officials reported Thursday.

Both had underlying health issues that put them at higher risk of death, sharing a similarity with the first death in the state, a Southgate man in his 50s, which was announced Wednesday.

The deaths come as the state started to incorporate private and hospital lab data into its confirmed coronavirus case count, increasing the statewide total from 110 cases Wednesday to 334 by Thursday afternoon. 

Despite the increases, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday she’s not considering a broader shutdown or shelter-in-place order in the near future to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Michigan.

“I am not. I want to be very clear about that. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about that lately,” Whitmer said in an interview with The Detroit News.

“People should look to see what we are doing from state government, from the executive office and from me personally and, at this juncture, no there is nothing of the sort.”

The state has protocols in place to limit spread already and, if followed, those measures should reduce the severity and spread of the virus, the governor said. 

"So that's why we’re calling on the pubic to do their part, observe the social distancing and the personal hygiene recommendations to ensure that you’re not going out if you don’t have to and if you’re medically fragile you’re absolutely staying home," she said.

Each of the three people who died, all on Wednesday, appeared to be from Wayne County. The state confirmed the man who died at a Beaumont Health hospital Wednesday was a Wayne County resident, while Henry Ford confirmed its patient also was from Wayne County. 

Margaret Dimond, McLaren Oakland president and CEO, said in a statement that the female patient in her 50s had a health condition prior to contracting the virus.

"We extend our sympathy to the patient’s family, and we encourage everyone to adhere to CDC guidelines to help slow the spread of this highly contagious disease," Dimond said.

Map: Track coronavirus cases in Michigan 

Henry Ford's health system said in a Thursday statement it has identified more than two dozen COVID-19 cases across its facilities by the end of Wednesday. Officials said they expect that number to rise with additional testing capabilities up and running in the state, including Henry Ford's own lab. 

In its first day, the lab received more than 1,200 orders for testing. Currently, the lab has the capacity to run approximately 100 tests per day, with results processed within 24 hours, according to Henry Ford Health. 

Adnan Munkarah, executive vice president and chief clinical officer, Henry Ford Health System, called the death a "sobering reminder" of how critical it is to prevent the spread of infection.

“We must continue to urge our families, friends and neighbors to take the recommended steps to protect ourselves and our most vulnerable patients — namely the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions," he said. 

Henry Ford Health noted that it is monitoring the supply inventories there, including masks, gowns, face shields, wipes and other products "to keep our patients and team members safe."

"Like all health systems, our concerns will increase as the number of positive cases arise," the statement adds, nothing the medical system has more than 31,600 team members. 

"We are in constant communication with our suppliers and continue to take measures to extend the life of our supplies."