Michigan approaches weekly record for COVID-19 cases

Sarah Rahal, The Detroit News
·6 min read

Apr. 17—Michigan on Saturday added 5,530 new COVID-19 cases and 69 deaths as the state approaches the weekly case record set in November.

The state has led the nation in new infections and hospitalizations for two weeks. Infections have now risen for eight consecutive weeks.

This week, the state added 47,284 cases and 342 deaths. Sixty of the deaths reported Saturday were identified during a vital records review.

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

Last week, the state recorded 45,817 cases and 282 deaths.

The latest figures bring the state's total number of cases to 785,307 and deaths to 16,840 since the virus was first detected in March 2020, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

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

The state's 551.8 cases per 100,000 people surpass Rhode Island at 304 cases per 100,000 people and New Jersey at 294 cases per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended a mask requirement to children as young as 2 years old that residents wear masks during gatherings under a new epidemic order unveiled Friday.

Currently, all Michigan residents age 16 and older are eligible to be vaccinated. However, Pfizer is the only vaccine authorized for kids ages 16 and 17.

Michigan on Tuesday paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine following a recommendation by the federal government after learning about six cases of a type of very rare blood clots in people who received the vaccine.

Michigan's latest data

The percentage of COVID-19 tests bringing positive results has been rising for eight consecutive weeks and is at 18%, the highest since the spring 2020 surge, Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said.

"We have not seen that high of a positivity rate since our first surge last spring and that's concerning because we're doing many more tests than we were then," Khaldun said Friday. "This indicates there's now broad community spread. Hospitalizations are also increasing and 18% of hospital beds in the state are filled with COVID-19 patients."

Those aged 20-29 and 30-39 have the highest case rates in the state. There are more than 5,500 new cases per day from these age groups, according to state data.

Cases among kids ages 10 to 19 continue to rise in schools and youth sports. From January to March, there have been 291 outbreaks from youth sports resulting in at least 1,091 infections, Khaldun said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Monday said the answer to Michigan's "acute situation" with COVID-19 is not to surge additional doses of vaccine into Michigan, as Whitmer has requested, but rather to shut down the state and "flatten the curve."

During the week of April 10, Michigan led the nation in percent positivity, case rates and hospitalizations, which have been increasing for four consecutive weeks.

Deaths have increased 39% since last week. The state also has the eighth-highest death rate, according to the CDC's COVID data tracker.

Michigan's largest hospitals issued an urgent warning Thursday saying they are nearing capacity.

As of Wednesday, the state reported 3,988 adults were hospitalized with the coronavirus, a 306% jump from one month ago when there were 981 hospitalizations. Of those hospitalized Wednesday, 841 are in ICU's and 471 are on ventilators.

"I worked in the ICU this week and I will tell you it's exhausting. Many of them are younger than what we have seen," Khaldun said Wednesday. "Patients are again lining our hospital hallways like they were last spring."

Khaldun and Whitmer on Wednesday endorsed monoclonal antibody treatments for patients with chronic medical conditions hospitalized with COVID-19.

Dr. Adnan Munkarah, chief clinical officer of Henry Ford Health System, said over the last five weeks COVID-19 patients have grown from 75 to 550.

"Positivity rates from inpatients were 1 in 25 and are now 1 in 5, this is extremely troubling," Munkarah said. "We've conducted more than 800 monoclonal antibody infusions at our six hospitals. It reduces hospitalization time, the risk of developing severe symptoms and dying, therefore, easing the burden on caregivers and hospitals."

About 16 states are seeing an increase in cases and 23 states are seeing weekly increases in hospitalizations. Michigan, Washington D.C., New York, New Jersey and Maryland have the highest per capita hospitalized patient numbers.

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 2,753 cases in 62 counties. Florida has the most, with 3,510 cases. Nationally, there are 20,915 cases of the variant.

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.

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 nine cases of the variant in six Michigan jurisdictions.

The first case of the P.1 variant from Brazil was identified in a Bay County resident. There are now six confirmed cases of P.1. in Michigan and 224 in the U.S.

Wayne County has the largest spread of the B.1.1.7 variant nearing 400 cases and 112 are in Detroit. Wayne and Washtenaw counties have all three reported variants.

Vaccines rolled out in phases

As of Wednesday, the state has administered 5.6 million of 7.4 million doses distributed. About 43% of the state's residents have had at least one dose of vaccine and 28% are fully vaccinated.

The state's fully vaccinated population includes 60% of all seniors 65 years and older, 28% of people aged 50 to 64, 17% of people age 40 to 49, and 15% of people age 30 to 39, according to the state's data tracker.

The state ranks 10th in the nation for the number of people who are fully vaccinated.

The virus is blamed for more than 563,000 deaths and 31 million confirmed infections in the U.S.

The state is tracking 1,152 active outbreaks including 48 new school outbreaks since last week at education institutions including K-12 public and private schools, colleges and school administrative buildings.

Another 29 outbreaks were in long-term care facilities, 27 outbreaks were in daycare and childcare programs, 39 in manufacturing,52 in restaurant and retail.

The state considers 587,283 people recovered from the virus as of Friday.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_