Coronavirus hits new high in Michigan. Is it a ‘blip’ or ‘surge’?

Hospital and health officials increasingly are worried about a sustained surge of the coronavirus, with cases rising this week to their highest levels since April.

The pandemic is moving to a new phase in Michigan — less deadly, but more ubiquitous, as it moves quickly throughout the state, from highly populated Kent County to sparsely rural areas in the Upper Peninsula.

“We’re very worried here, and public health officials across the state and across the country are worried,” said Adam London, Kent County’s health officer.

Michigan on Thursday recorded  2,030 cases, the most since the pandemic began in mid-March. That tally, however, included an undisclosed number of cases from previous days that should have been reported earlier. Even so, the state’s new seven-day average is 1,359, the most since April.

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Michigan also recorded 32 deaths on Thursday, and the state is on pace for over 400 deaths in October. That’s up from an average of 280 the past three months, but a fraction of the 3,353 who died in April.

In the first month of the pandemic, 80 percent of the cases were in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, and much of Michigan had none.

On Thursday, the three-county region accounted for just 27 percent of new cases.

Instead, areas around Battle Creek, Flint, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Holland and Marquette are sharing the increase — and a surge of COVID-19 hospital patients. 

“We are currently buried as a staff,”  Eric Pessell, the health officer for the Calhoun County Public Health Department, wrote in an email to Bridge Michigan. 

“Hospitalizations in Calhoun are at their highest since May.”

Calhoun County is in the southwest Michigan region that has had the biggest jump in hospitalizations, with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients rising from 48 on Sept. 30 to 126 on Thursday.

Statewide, hospitalizations are up over 50 percent during that time to 1,029, with the Grand Rapids region and metro Detroit also amid big increases.

Kent County reported 200 new infections on Thursday, the most in the state, pushing its seven-day average to 146, up from 95 the previous week. It is now recording an average of 22 new daily cases per 100,000, up from 15 the previous week.


The state overall is at 13 new daily cases per 100,000 and many counties are seeing that rate rise rapidly as cases spread.

“We don't know if this is a blip. We don't know what it's going to look like going forward,” said Steve Kelso, spokesperson for the Kent County Health Department.  

“We don't know if this is going to be a long and bad winter.”

Even more worrisome: Many cases aren’t tied to single events but instead are spread through numerous gatherings, said London, Kent’s health officer.

Of 170 cases among K-12 students since August, just six were connected to spread in the classroom, while 99 cases were connected to exposures outside of school. The cause of infection among another 65 cases among students was unknown — evidence of “community spread,” he said. 

“We are all suffering pandemic fatigue. We’re tired of hearing about masks and handwashing and social distancing, but now is not the time to let down our guard,” London said.

He and others worry that cool temperatures and shorter days are sending people inside — when normal cold and flu season kicks in. What Michigan is seeing is playing out across the Midwest with neighboring states of Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin all hitting record highs.

In the Upper Peninsula, two cases of COVID at an Oct. 2 American Legion fish fry in Munising in Alger County grew to 24 by Wednesday, prompting the group to announce it would close temporarily.

“We’re seeing people who are testing positive and weren’t at the Legion, but are connected to people who were there on the 2nd,” said Kerry Ott, spokesperson for the LMAS Health Department, which serves four counties in the eastern Upper Peninsula.

“Our nurses in Alger (County) are just swamped,” she said.

Many more infections are likely as the positive test rate in the state, about 3 percent for months, has creeped to 4.8 percent of more the 42,000 tests reported Thursday.

That includes nearly 13 percent of over 1,000 tests in Calhoun County, over 11 percent in Marquette County, where dozens of staff at the state prison have been infected and 7 percent in Macomb County.

In all, 35 counties were over 5 percent positive, including Detroit’s suburban Wayne and Oakland counties. 

Detroit, the hardest-hit city in April, is still below 3 percent, at 2.6 percent Thursday.

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middle of the mit
Thu, 10/15/2020 - 11:16pm

“We are all suffering pandemic fatigue. We’re tired of hearing about masks and handwashing and social distancing, but now is not the time to let down our guard,” London said.

Face it. America has NO patience!
Guns N' Roses - Patience


As opposed to greed.

Greed is an uncontrolled longing for increase in the acquisition or use: of material gain; or social value, such as status, or power. Greed has been identified as undesirable throughout known human history because it creates behavior-conflict between personal and social goals.

What do you think runs America?


Fri, 10/16/2020 - 9:13am

Wear all the masks you want, and I do, we are not going to stop the Chinese Covid virus until we bring forward an inoculation!! We destroyed the economy for no reason, it is all so clear now.

Of course some wanted to do just that to destroy Prez. Trump and his chances at re-election. To make political hay out of Covid was something I never thought any one would stoop so low to do,,was I ever wrong!

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 12:20pm

A Herd Immunity plan will willingly kill millions of people. Trump knows this and even admitted as much before he started pushing it as a strategy.

Are you suggesting COVID was a plot to make Trump look bad? You do realize other countries are also struggling economically right?

Nobody needed to make Trump look bad, he does a pretty good job of that on his own. Like when a reporter asked if he takes any responsibility for the botched federal covid response and he said "I take no responsibility at all." Or when a reporter mentioned that 1,000 people a day are dying and he said "It is what it is." Or when he said it would go away on its own. Or when he pushed untested medicines as miracle cures. Or how he only uses covid statistics that make him look good and calls the rest "fake news." Or when Trump said people who wear masks aren't doing it for health reasons and are only doing it to show their disapproval for him. And how he continues to make fun of Biden for wearing a mask even though places like Arizona saw a significant decrease in cases after a mask mandate was implemented.

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 9:51am

Must be all those people re-using single use masks.

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 12:51pm

Funny how there is a surge since Whitmer got her wings clipped. BUT Whitmer says her mandates, (masks, stay home, social distance, no crowds etc.) are the only way to keep the covid at why the surge? The majority of people were doing what she clearly her mandates have no basis in data and science.

Real logic
Wed, 10/21/2020 - 1:27pm

Funny how there is a surge since Whitmer got her wings clipped. BUT Whitmer says her mandates, (masks, stay home, social distance, no crowds etc.) are the only way to keep the covid at why the surge?
You want to know why there is surge in cases AFTER restrictions have been loosened?

That is like asking why there are raccoons eating my trash after I decided to not use lids on the trash can.

Sat, 10/17/2020 - 8:51am

It is interesting how many experts around the world are bring "silenced" by certain political control streams that masks don't make a difference. And there is a muzzle on anyone who dares to ask why Covid patients were placed in nursing homes here in Michigan for several months. No main stream Journalist ever pressed or questioned the Governor about this, her policy. Also why doesn't she allow the death toll count of her policy to be released?

Thu, 10/22/2020 - 9:20am

Masks work:

COVID patients weren't forced into nursing homes and only nursing homes with appropriate PPE levels and separate isolation wings were allowed to take in COVID patients. In fact, the percent of COVID deaths in nursing homes is lower in Michigan than many other places in the US:

But even though we have one of the lowest percentages of nursing home deaths, reporters WERE still asking questions about the numbers. Literally this site wrote up an article about it:

Constantly repeating these two false points doesn't suddenly make them true.