Last updated: Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 4:05 p.m. This post will be continuously updated with Michigan coronavirus locations and updated COVID-19 news.
Michigan is vaccinating state residents at a far faster rate than previously, with more than 600,000 residents having received at least one dose.
That places the state 21st in the rate of first-dose vaccinations per 100,000 residents, a marked improvement from 45th in the first weeks of the vaccination program. The state ranks 20th for those who have gotten both required doses of the vaccine.
The good vaccine news comes as new coronavirus infections continue to decline, with 1,476 cases reported Tuesday. That puts the seven-day daily average at 1,777, the lowest rate since mid-October.
But the state reported another 79 COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, all from January except one from December. Since the pandemic began, 14,405 have died of confirmed COVID-19.
Testing data showed 7.1 percent of more than 26,000 tests reported Tuesday came back positive. Over the past week, the average has been 6.2 percent and Michigan has the 40th lowest rate in the country as of Sunday data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hospitalizations fell again as well, with 1,638 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 currently being treated in hospitals across the state. At the beginning of the year, there were 2,700 being treated statewide. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Jan. 25
Michigan’s continued trend of falling coronavirus cases and deaths continued Monday with the state reporting 3,011 new cases and 35 deaths since Saturday.
That averages to a little more than 1,500 cases and 17 deaths for the previous two days.
Case counts, as well as hospitalizations and positive tests, continue to fall in much of Michigan. The state reported just under 1,700 COVID-19 hospital patients, the fewest since Oct. 29.
And the state reported 5.9 percent of coronavirus tests returned positive, with the state averaging 6.2 percent over the past week.
Compared to other states, Michigan now has one of the lowest case rates per 100,000 people in the country, with only two states — North Dakota and Oregon — having lower rates.
In terms of hospitalizations per 100,000 people, Michigan ranks 35th at 170 patients per 100,000 and it ranks 40th in terms of percent of tests coming back positive.
In each case, ranking lower is better. Arizona is No. 1 in hospitalizations with 589 patients per 100,000, triple Michigan’s rate, and Oklahoma has the highest percent positive, 18.2 percent, nearly three times higher than Michigan’s current rate. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Jan. 23
High death toll shows pandemic remains deadly despite overall improvement
Although coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to decline in Michigan, the state reported more than 200 COVID-19 deaths for just the fifth time on Saturday.
The 221 deaths include 205 that followed a review of medical records; those deaths occurred mostly in early January. But 74 occurred in December and three each in October and November.
The state, which three times a week reports COVID-19 deaths that are determined after a review of medical records, has reported more deaths only on two other days: 232 on April 23 and 222 on Jan. 9.
Of the reported deaths, 30 occurred in Oakland County, 24 in Macomb County, 19 in suburban Wayne County and 15 in Genesee County.
The numbers are a reminder of how deadly COVID-19 remains despite weeks of declining infections, lower positive test rates and fewer COVID-19 hospital patients.
The arc of positive news continued Saturday with the state reporting 1,601 new coronavirus infections, pushing the seven-day average down to 1,791, the lowest rate since the third week of October.
The percent of positive tests reported Saturday was 5.9 percent, as is the seven-day average.
Since the pandemic began, 548,069 people have had confirmed coronavirus infections and 14,291 have died from confirmed COVID-19. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Jan. 22
More than a half-million Michiganders have first vaccine dose
The rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in Michigan has improved markedly, with 536,000 having gotten at least the first of two doses.
That has improved Michigan’s standing nationally to 25th, up from 45th just two weeks ago in terms of vaccines administered per 100,000 residents. The state ranks 22nd in the rate of people who have gotten both doses; 105,882 people have gotten both as of Friday.
It’s more welcome news as the state continues to see average case rates, hospitalizations and deaths decline. And the percent of coronavirus tests coming back positive stayed below 6 percent, with 5.1 percent of tests reported Friday returning positive. Over the last week, the overall rate has been 5.9 percent.
The state reported 2,157 new confirmed cases and 17 deaths. The cases pushed the seven-day rate down again; it remains among the lowest in the country.
Since the pandemic began, over 546,000 people have been infected and 14,070 have died from COVID-19.
Vaccinations in nursing homes and other senior citizen living facilities have increased, with just over 70,000 getting at least the first dose of the vaccine. The elderly make up a substantial portion of those who have died, with nursing home residents comprising 28 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the state— Mike Wilkinson
Thursday, Jan. 21
Cases, hospitalizations fall as state records 14,000th death
Michigan’s COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to fall, the state reported Thursday, but not enough to stop Michigan from passing another grim milestone.
The state recorded and passed its 14,000th death linked to COVID-19 on Thursday after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services added 148 deaths, including 128 of them from a review of medical records of previous deaths. That brought the total count to 14,053 deaths linked to COVID-19.
But overall, case counts, case rates, testing and hospitalizations continued to fall as Michigan continued efforts to distribute COVID vaccines.
The health department reported 2,165 new cases Thursday, bringing the total up to 544,311 and settling the seven-day average to 1,901 cases a day — the lowest since late October. That case count was a stark contrast to daily case counts just before Thanksgiving, when Michigan was reporting an average of more than 7,000 new cases each day between Nov. 19 and 23.
Positive test results fell, too, to just 4.9 percent Thursday, in contrast to a high of 16 percent recorded Dec. 2. Positive test results have remained below 10 percent since Jan. 6.
And for the first time since Nov. 2, there were fewer than 2,000 patients (1,907) in Michigan’s hospitals with confirmed COVID-19. On Nov. 30, Michigan’s hospitals were caring for 4,326 patients with confirmed COVID. — Robin Erb
Wednesday, Jan. 20
Cases and hospitalizations decline; fewer positive tests
Much of Michigan is experiencing a decline in new coronavirus cases and fewer tests are coming back positive, welcome signs that show the deadly second wave of COVID-19 is receding.
The state reported 2,031 new confirmed cases and although that’s higher than the last five days, it still helped bring the seven-day average below 2,000 for the first time since Oct. 25.
On Dec. 1, a number of counties were hitting peak numbers and the state had the most patients yet being treated for COVID-19. Then, Macomb County was experiencing 78 new daily coronavirus cases per 100,000; it was 18 on Wednesday. Oakland was at 57 on Dec. 1; it’s now at 18 cases as well.
Similar trends are found across the state — in Muskegon County, 126 new cases were occurring daily on Nov. 16 per 100,000. Now it’s 12 cases. Bay County hit a rate of 114 daily cases per 100,000 on Nov. 16 and is at 22 cases now.
The percent of coronavirus tests coming back positive hit 6.5 percent Wednesday, the seventh time in eight days below 7 percent.
Just 13 counties have a rate over 10 percent in the past week; there were 27 counties at or above 10 percent a week earlier.
The state reported another 40 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and state epidemiologist Sarah Lyon-Callo said the state has seen its COVID-19 mortality rate fall for four consecutive weeks.
Since the pandemic began there have been 542,146 confirmed cases and 13,905 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.— Mike Wilkinson
Tues., Jan 19
Cases remain flat as hospitalizations continue decline
Michigan public health authorities reported 1,738 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the seven-day average down to 2,072. It hasn’t been below 2,000 since Oct. 25.
Since the pandemic began in March, 540,113 confirmed infections have been reported and 13,865 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, including 41 reported Tuesday.
There are now 2,053 people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, down 87 from Monday and 157 from a week ago. A month ago there were over 3,200 COVID-19 patients in Michigan.
The latest testing results — with 7.5 percent positive — marked the first time the total exceeded 7 percent in eight days.
The state, with roughly 7 percent of all tests positive in the last week, has one of the best rates in the country, with only 11 other states having a lower percent positive.
Only four states — Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and North Dakota — have a lower case rate (average new daily infections per 100,000) than Michigan’s 28 daily cases. The national rate is 64 new daily cases per 100,000, according to a Bridge Michigan analysis of federal records.
In terms of hospitalizations, the state ranked 35th as of Jan. 14, when federal data were most recently updated. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Jan. 18
Vaccine distribution picks up; cases hit three-month low
Michigan has now received 1.05 million total doses of the coronavirus vaccine, with the state reporting Monday that counties have had over 218,000 new doses shipped to them since Friday.
Overall, some 420,000 residents have had at least one of two doses, while 67,815 of those have had both doses.
In the first few weeks of vaccinations, Michigan was among the worst states in doses administered per 100,000 residents. Michigan now ranks 30th, though that does not include doses administered since Thursday.
Over 206,000 doses were administered last week, 58 percent more than the 130,000 the previous week.
Although the pace of vaccinations has increased in the past three weeks, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said there are still unnecessary delays. She has joined with governors in seven other states to petition the federal government to allow them to work directly with manufacturers to buy doses.
Public health officials have said they are running out of the vaccines, and Wayne County has said it had to reschedule appointments because it had run out.
On Monday, Wayne County announced it was switching from the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to the Moderna vaccine. Each is considered equally safe but, unlike Pfizer, the Moderna vaccine does not require the extreme low temperatures and extra handling. — Mike Wilkinson
Tracker updates at a glance:
- Jan. 18: Michigan hits three-month low in new cases
- Jan. 16: Washtenaw County woman first in state with COVID variant
- Whitmer joins other governors in asking for more vaccine doses
- Shirkey announces he had COVID-19 and recovered
- Jan. 9: Michigan records second deadliest COVID day Saturday
- Michigan freezes all minimum wages
Michigan hits three-month low in new cases
Michigan has one of the lowest rates of new coronavirus infections in the country and one of the lowest positive test rates, according to the latest data from the state.
The state reported an average of 1,421 new cases for Sunday and Monday, pushing the seven-day average to 2,108, or about 21 new daily cases per 100,000 people. The national rate is 66 new daily cases per 100,000.
The new case rate in Michigan was last this low in late October.
Over the past seven days, just 6.5 percent of tests have come back positive, down from 8.6 percent the week before. Though 10 counties remain above 10 percent, the rest are below, including the most populous: Oakland (6.7 percent), Macomb (7.2), Kent (7.3) and suburban Wayne County (8.2 percent). Detroit is at 4.8 percent over the past week.
The state reported 20 additional COVID-19 deaths on Monday, or an average of 10 for Sunday and Monday. There have been 13,824 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. There have been 538,377 confirmed coronavirus cases.
Hospitalizations again fell from last week, whith 2,140 patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, down 82 from Friday. The state does not update hospital numbers over the weekend. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Jan. 16
Washtenaw County woman first in state with COVID variant
Michigan health officials on Saturday announced the state’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus variant, which originated in the United Kingdom and is believed to be more contagious.
The state announced a Washtenaw County woman who recently traveled to the United Kingdom tested positive for the variant, known as B.1.1.7., and came into close contact with two individuals. All are under quarantine.
The confirmation comes as new coronavirus cases are declining in Michigan, but the same week that health officials warned that the United States has two distinct coronavirus variants and many more likely will be identified in coming weeks.
“The discovery of this variant in Michigan is concerning, but not unexpected,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said in a statement.
“We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic as quickly as possible.”
New cases fall below 2,000 for first time since December
For the fourth straight day, Michigan health officials on Saturday reported that fewer than 7 percent coronavirus tests were positive, falling to 6.1 percent with Friday’s tests.
The percentage of positive tests has fallen steadily since hitting 10.5 percent on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5, a promising sign that widespread infections are subsiding.
The state also reported 1,932 new coronavirus infections, the first time under 2,000 since Dec. 27 and 28. That brings the seven-day average to 2,350 cases, the lowest in over two months. It was last lower on Oct. 27, at 2,126.
The total number of coronavirus infections now stands at 535,534. The 103 deaths reported Saturday — 93 from January and the rest in December — brings the total to 13,804.
Of the newly reported deaths, 16 were in Macomb County, 13 in Oakland County and 10 in suburban Wayne County.
Compared to other states, Michigan’s case rate is one of the lowest. It has averaged 30 new daily cases — confirmed and probable — over the past week, good for 47th in the country, according to a Bridge Michigan analysis of federal coronavirus data. — Mike Wilkinson
Whitmer joins other governors in asking for more vaccine doses
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and governors of Wisconsin and Minnesota on Friday asked the Trump administration to allow the three states to buy coronavirus vaccines directly from manufacturers.
Whitmer, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz made the request in a letter to U.S. Human Services Secretary Alex Azar as many states are set to run out of the vaccines before the next wave of shipments arrive.
The request from the Democrats comes as a promise earlier this week to release millions of doses held in reserve may not come to fruition because there is no reserve, according to the Washington Post.
Azar announced the plan to release the doses this week, but the Post reported the reserve had already been allocated and shipped in late December.
Michigan is 30th among states for administering an initial dose and 28th in getting both doses. Just under 350,000 statewide have received at least one dose and, of those, 57,000 have received the second.
Outside of weekends, the state is averaging about 32,000 vaccinations a day this week, up from 22,000 a day the week before.
Whitmer and the others said their states need more vaccines from the manufacturers.
“If you are unable or unwilling to give us that supply, we urge you to grant permission for us to directly purchase vaccines so we may distribute them to the people of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota as quickly as possible,” they said in their statement. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Jan. 15
Coronavirus case counts stable
Michigan’s daily coronavirus count remained stable again Friday, with 2,598 new confirmed cases reported as positive tests fell below 7 percent for the second straight day.
The new cases bring the seven-day average to 2,461, nearly equal to the recent low on Dec. 28 before a slight rise following Christmas. Since the pandemic began the state has reported 533,602 cases and now 13,701 deaths, including 29 reported Friday.
The promising trends include the lower case counts but also test positivity: 6.3 percent of the most recent tests came back positive, the second time under 7 percent in two days and fifth day in six they’ve been below 8 percent.
And no county in the state has a rate over 20 percent for the first time in many weeks; Hillsdale County has the highest seven-day rate at 18.8 percent. Rates are down in most counties, including the most populous: It’s at 5.6 percent in Detroit, 8.3 percent in Kent County, 8.7 percent in Macomb and 9.2 in suburban Wayne.
On Dec. 1, Macomb had hit 19 percent, Kent was at 14.5, Wayne was at 14.4 and Detroit was at 8.6 percent.
And for the first time since Nov. 4, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients fell below 2,000 with 1,992 patients reported Friday.
The drop from a high of 3,900 COVID-19 patients on Dec. 1 has been steady but not as sharp as the increase that began once the coronavirus second wave hit. At the beginning of October there were fewer than 500 confirmed COVID-19 patients; it was 1,500 on Nov. 1 and then 3,900 a month later. — Mike Wilkinson
Thursday, Jan. 14
Counts, hospitalizations stable as positive tests decline
Evidence that any post-holiday bump in coronavirus cases is over is emerging from the state’s data.
The number of new cases reported Thursday — 2,698 — is almost identical to Wednesday and pushed the seven-day average down for the sixth straight day, now at 2,608.
Also, the percent of coronavirus tests coming back positive fell to 6.3 percent of 48,900 tests, with the seven-day average falling to 7.6 percent.
And the number of people hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 inched lower, to 2,238 people.
All are positive signs after a brief rise in cases over 11 days beginning Dec. 28. But state officials are still cautiously optimistic.
“We are glad that we made it through the holidays without a big increase in numbers, but there have been some worrying signs in the new numbers,” said Lynn Sutfin, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The state has also improved its national standing in vaccine distribution, moving to 29th among all states, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state had been among the worst just a week ago. Through Tuesday the state said over 332,000 people have gotten the first of two required vaccine doses, including over 52,000 residents and staff of long-term care facilities including nursing homes.
Long-term care facilities have accounted for 40 percent of all of the 13,672 deaths in Michigan, and similar percentages of COVID-19 deaths nationwide.
The state reported 139 new COVID-19 deaths yesterday, of which 126 occurred this month with the other 13 occurring in December. — Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Jan. 13
Positive test rate hits recent low
For the first time since October, the percent of coronavirus tests coming back positive fell below 7 percent, hitting 6.9 percent among nearly 39,000 tests, the state reported Wednesday.
The positive test rate, which hit a high of 16 percent on Dec. 2, has not been as low as 6.9 percent since Oct. 29, when it was 6.6 percent. The state has set a target of 3 percent.
That good news is coupled with another drop in the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19: as of Wednesday there were 2,246, the fewest since Nov. 4 where there were a reported 2,215 COVID-19 patients.
The state also reported 2,694 new coronavirus infections, for a total of 528,306, and 32 additional COVID-19 deaths. There have now been 13,533 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, including 583 in January.
The state has averaged 2,700 cases a day in the past week.
Only four states have a lower daily cases rate per 100,000 than Michigan does, according to federal data analyzed by Bridge Michigan. The state’s past week positive test rate, 8.9 percent, is higher than only 12 other states.— Mike Wilkinson
Shirkey announces he had COVID-19 and recovered
Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a fierce critic of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pandemic policies, tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 23 and has since recovered, a spokesperson announced Wednesday.
It’s not immediately clear why the Clarklake Republican waited three weeks to publicly disclose the diagnosis. He reported his positive test result to the Senate Business Office “in accordance with Senate policy,” said Amber McCann.
Shirkey “experienced a fever and was fatigued” but recovered during a home quarantine, she told reporters.
The Senate GOP leader “believes” he was exposed on Dec. 19 and had not been in Lansing since Dec. 18, McCann said. She later issued a correction, acknowledging Shirkey was in Lansing on Dec. 21 and visited the state House for outgoing House Speaker Lee Chatfield’s farewell address.
Shirkey is the 14th Michigan lawmaker known to have contracted COVID-19 since March, when Rep. Isaac Robinson died from what was believed to be virus complications. State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, D-Dearborn, disclosed a positive test result last week. Dozens of staffers also tested positive last year.
Michigan public health officials reported just under 2,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, pushing down the seven-day average to almost 3,000 a day as the percent of positive tests hit 7.2 percent.
The state also reported 100 COVID-19 deaths, 96 from January and the others from December.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 525,612 confirmed cases and 13,501 deaths.
Across the state case counts have fallen, easing pressure on hospitals. Oakland County, for instance, was averaging more than 700 cases a day in late November; it’s now at 342 daily cases.
The state also reported that 7.2 percent of 34,700 tests came back positive, extending the decline in test positivity that health officials say is key to keeping low to minimize spread of the coronavirus.
There was a slight increase in the number of patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in state hospitals, with 2,443 reported on Tuesday, up 47 from Monday. But that number is 315 lower than it was a week ago.— Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Jan. 12
New coronavirus cases, test positivity rates fall
Michigan public health officials reported just under 2,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, pushing down the seven-day average to almost 3,000 a day as the percent of positive tests hit 7.2 percent.
The state also reported 100 COVID-19 deaths, 96 from January and the others from December.
Since the pandemic began, there have been 525, 612 confirmed cases and 13,501 deaths.
Across the state case counts have fallen, easing pressure on hospitals. Oakland County, for instance, was averaging more than 700 cases a day in late November; it’s now at 342 daily cases.
The state also reported that 7.2 percent of 34,700 tests came back positive, extending the decline in test positivity that health officials say is key to keeping low to minimize spread of the coronavirus.
There was a slight increase in the number of patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in state hospitals, with 2,443 reported on Tuesday, up 47 from Monday. But that number is 315 lower than it was a week ago. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Jan. 11
Cases, test positivity remain stable as hospitalizations continue to fall
Amid worries about a possible post-holiday coronavirus surge, Michigan reported an average of 2,268 new confirmed cases for Sunday and Monday, keeping the overall seven-day average nearly unchanged.
With the new cases, which push the total to 523,618, the state is averaging 3,017 cases a day — almost identical to the rate over each of the past five days.
While still well above what was seen as recently as Oct. 1, when the state was averaging 900 cases a day, it’s well below the 7,200 it was averaging just before Thanksgiving and just after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration ordered a “pause” in some business and social activities.
In other coronavirus news:
- The state also reported 47 additional deaths, bringing the total to 13,401.
- Hospitalization fell below 2,400 statewide for the first time since Nov. 5.
- The state reported that 232,000 people have been vaccinated, up from 195,000 last Friday. Nationally, however, the 2,227 people per 100,000 who have been vaccinated ranks the state 39th among all states. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Jan. 9
Michigan records second deadliest COVID day Saturday
Michigan reported another 222 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, the second deadliest day of the pandemic. The state indicated that half of the new deaths occurred in January, with the rest from November and December.
The only day with a higher reported number of deaths was April 21, when 232 were reported.
The high toll comes as the number of new coronavirus cases in Michigan has stabilized — it was 2,706 on Saturday — after rising for about two weeks.
The 111 deaths recorded Saturday from December pushed that month’s death total to 3,302.
Overall, there have been 519,082 confirmed coronavirus cases and 13,354 COVID-19 deaths in Michigan during the pandemic.
The worst stretch of death came between Nov. 21, when 111 COVID-19 deaths occurred, and Dec. 21, when another 113 happened. Over those 31 days, a total of 3,450 people died of COVID-19, an average of 111 each day.
The daily death toll has fallen in recent weeks, coinciding with fewer coronavirus infections and fewer COVID-19 patients in Michigan hospitals (the state does not report updated hospitalization data on Saturdays).
Another encouraging note: For the second straight day, the COVID-19 tests coming back positive stayed below 9 percent (8.3 percent). It had averaged nearly 10 percent from Dec. 31 through Jan. 5.
The state does not update vaccine distribution data on Saturdays. As of Friday, 195,240 doses of approved vaccines had been administered across Michigan, with 10,215 going to nursing home residents and staff. The state had received 725,850 doses as of Friday. Like many states, Michigan has had some early stumbles in getting vaccines administered. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Jan. 8
Case count averages rise Friday, but positive signs emerge
Despite a small rise in the average number of new coronavirus infections in Michigan, the state reported Friday fewer people in the hospital, fewer deaths and a lower positive test rate.
Overall, there were 3,625 new confirmed coronavirus cases, pushing the seven-day daily average up to 3,178, the highest since Dec. 23.
And the past week of higher case counts have pushed the rate up in many counties across the state, though far below the November and December highs they experienced.
But the number of hospitalizations fell, with just under 2,500 patients treated for confirmed or suspected COVID-19, down from Thursday and down just over 200 from Monday’s total.
That is welcome news as is the percent positive rate: 8.7 percent from over 52,000 tests. The rate had bumped up over 10 percent in the past week after going as low as 7 percent (3 percent is the state’s target goal).
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said that the coronavirus trends will be watched as her administration looks at restrictions set to expire Jan. 15. Hospitalizations, case counts and positive test rates are all big factors, she has said.
The state reported Friday that it vaccinated over 26,000 people on Thursday, by far the most vaccinated in one day, and nearly 11,000 more than on its previous high the day before.
The state also reported 38 new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the January total to 302 and the overall total to 13,132. — Mike Wilkinson
Thursday, Jan. 7
Holiday gatherings may have spurred uptick in cases
With Michigan reporting another 4,000 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, it’s looking more likely that holiday gatherings have spurred another uptick in cases.
The new infections push the seven-day daily average to nearly 3,100, the highest since Dec. 23.
After the second wave of cases peaked on Nov. 21, with a daily average of over 7,200 cases, it steadily fell, hitting a low of 2,400 on Dec. 28. It has slowly risen since and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and others in her administration said they were looking at case trends to see if the holidays would have an impact. Whitmer said Wednesday that data on travel indicated people had been moving around more.
The governor has said that trends on cases, hospitalizations and positive test rates will have an impact on whether restrictions, like those on restaurants and bars, will be lifted before the current Jan. 15 expiration date or possibly extended.
Although case rates are up, they are half — or even lower — of what they were in December and November when the state, like much of the country was hit the hardest.
That pushed hospitalization rates to their highest since the pandemic began but they have steadily gone down, as they did again Thursday, with just under 2,600 patients statewide being treated for confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
But the percent of coronavirus tests coming back positive is also up. Over the past week, nearly 10 percent of tests (9.7) have been positive, compared to 8.5 percent of tests in the week prior.
The state also reported 176 COVID-19 deaths Thursday. Of those, 106 have occurred in January, 68 in December, 1 in November and one back in May (the state routinely reviews earlier deaths to see if medical records indicate it could be a COVID-19 death).
Oakland County (31) had the most reported deaths, followed by suburban Wayne County (20) and Macomb County (14).
The state reported it vaccinated the most people yet in a single day on Wednesday — 24,836, pushing the overall total to 174,749 people. The state also reported it had received another 60,000 doses, bringing the total to 725,850.
Whitmer announced Wednesday that all people 65 or older, along with some frontline workers like teachers and law enforcement, would be eligible to receive the vaccine as early as Jan. 11.— Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Jan. 6
Infections cross 4,000 for first time in year
Michigan health officials reported 4,326 new infections, the highest number this year — and the highest in three weeks.
The case counts are indicating the end of the steady decline that had started in early December and lasted through the holidays.
For a couple of weeks that data has been volatile — going up and down in big swings, with Wednesday’s data leaning toward rising cases and higher positive tests. After falling as low as 7 percent two weeks ago, over 10 percent of all new coronavirus tests are now coming back positive.
In terms of cases, after a couple of weeks of steady declines in both daily counts and rates per 100,000 residents, many counties are seeing those number rise — though still far below the case counts of mid-November and early December.
Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Kent counties are all experiencing slight increases, as are many other counties. Suburban Wayne County reported 598 new cases Wednesday, it’s highest number in weeks and the most in the state, followed by Oakland (505), Macomb (405) and Kent (348 cases). — Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Jan. 5
Case counts fall but December deaths top 3,000; more vaccines arrive
Michigan reported 2,119 new confirmed coronavirus infections on Tuesday, halting several days of increases in the seven-day average of cases.
Since Dec. 29, the average number of cases had risen but declined with Tuesday’s case count to 2,927.
Infections are down across the state and are a fraction of what they were just six weeks ago. On Nov. 21, eight counties were averaging 100 new infections daily for every 100,000 people and another six were between 90 and 100 new daily cases.
On Tuesday, no county had a rate over 60 new daily cases and 53 of the state’s 83 counties had a rate lower than 30 daily cases per 100,000, including most of the more populous counties. Kent County, the state’s fourth largest by population, was at 35 new daily cases per 100,000 — it was 99 on Nov. 21.
But the state reported another 189 COVID-19 deaths, with most of those occurring in December, pushing to 3,017 the total deaths last month, the second most deadly — behind April — since the pandemic began. There have been 117 COVID-19 deaths so far in 2021.
The latest testing data showed that just over 10 percent of tests returned positive and hospitalizations, which had been steadily falling for several weeks, rose slightly, with 2,758 patients being treated for confirmed or suspected COVID-19, up from 2,698 on Monday. — Mike Wilkinson
Michigan gets 140,000 more vaccine doses
Michigan health officials on Tuesday reported the shipment of another 140,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine, though they arrive as the state has struggled to administer the first 380,000 already sent to the state.
So far Michigan has now received 520,150 doses of the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, with the Pfizer vaccine making up over 411,000 doses of the total.
With the latest data, however, the state reported 140,245 doses had been administered and a Bridge Michigan report showed the state has one of the lowest rates of vaccine administration.
However, the state’s data — shared daily with the federal government — may be substantially undercounting vaccinations. Linda Vail, health officer for Ingham County, said hospitals in the county, along with the health department, have vaccinated over 7,000 people. But the state’s latest data indicate just 2,600 vaccinations have occurred in the county.
Health officials told Bridge that a number of health care workers have been reluctant to get the vaccine, with thousands declining the opportunity. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Jan. 4
Michigan crosses 500,000 mark in cases
More than 500,000 Michigan residents have now been infected with the coronavirus, with the state reporting nearly 5,000 new cases on Monday.
Those cases, 4,992 over two days, or 2,496 a day, put the total since March at 502,119.
The case counts pushed the seven-day daily average up to 3,087; they had fallen below 2,500 on Dec. 28 but are still well below the November high of nearly 7,300 daily cases. The rate per 100,000 residents — 31 new daily cases — is also far below neighboring states and the national average of 67 daily cases per 100,000.
The state reported 80 additional COVID-19 deaths. So far in January, there have been 58 COVID-19 deaths with the others reported Monday occurring in December, which now has had 2,888 deaths.
Testing data showed a 7.8 percent positive rate for the most recent day, following three days where the rate had averaged over 10 percent. The state’s goal is 3 percent; it reached as high as 16 percent, on Dec. 2.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Michigan hospitals continued to fall, though slightly. There were 2,698 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients as of Monday, down from 2,758 reported on Dec. 30. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Jan. 2
Over 200 COVID-19 deaths reported as case counts rise
Michigan recorded 265 COVID-related deaths Saturday covering a three-day period. The state emerged from a deadly December, when it averaged 92 deaths a day linked to the virus, for a total of 2,857, making it the second deadliest month of the pandemic. Only April was higher.
December’s toll will likely rise even higher as more death certificates are finalized and reported.
Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had 36 of the newly reported deaths, Macomb County had 30 and Oakland County had 21. Genesee has 13 and St. Clair 12.
The new report, which covered Dec. 31, Jan. 1 and Saturday, also showed 8,983 new coronavirus infections, or roughly 2,994 for each of the three days. That puts the state’s seven-day average of cases at 2,837. That daily average has risen daily since Dec. 28 when it stood at 2,444.
The increase has pushed up infection totals in several counties around the state including Oakland (from a seven-day average of 248 cases a week ago to 288 cases in the current week) and Kent (from 174 to 227).
But other areas continued to see infection averages fall, including Detroit (119 to 104 daily cases), Macomb County (206 to 197) and suburban Wayne County (306 daily cases to 253).
The state does not report vaccine and hospital data on weekends and testing data typically available was not released today. — Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Dec. 30
4,222 new cases, 51 deaths as vaccine efforts ramp up
As Michigan ramps up the administration of the coronavirus vaccine, the state added another 4,222 COVID-19 cases and 51 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the count to 488,144 confirmed cases and 12,333 deaths for the year.
Still, the rate of cases continues to slow. Wednesday’s case tally is less than half of that on Nov. 27, when there was a single-day high of 8,581 cases..
Hospitalizations also continue to decline after a single day increase on Tuesday. On Wednesday, 2,487 patients in Michigan’s hospitals had suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, down from 4,326 patients on Nov. 30.
The slowdown comes as the state continues efforts to vaccinate Michiganders against the virus.
As of Wednesday, 86,626 vaccines had been administered of the 337,875 vaccines that have shipped to Michigan.
On Thursday, University of Michigan will open its stadium to vaccinate hundreds of employees and students. The university’s health system already has vaccinated more than 6,000 health care workers, according to the university. Only students and workers who fall into the vaccine Phase 1a priority group — those who work in health and long-term care settings — are eligible. — Robin Erb
Tuesday, Dec. 29
Another 193 deaths as Whitmer vetoes part of relief bill
Michigan reported 193 COVID-19-related deaths Tuesday. It marks the 11th time in December the state recorded more than 175 deaths from the virus. It brings the total number of COVID deaths this month to 2,560.
The somber numbers arrived the same day Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that provided $465 million in surplus funds to COVID-related issues while stripping another $225 million from the Republican-backed measure that would have helped businesses, according to The Detroit News.
The deaths reported Tuesday include 105 previous deaths that are now tied to the virus following a review of medical records. Almost all occurred in the last two weeks.
Oakland County recorded 22 of the Tuesday deaths, with Macomb and suburban Wayne counties reporting 20. Detroit had 12.
The state also reported 3,414 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, pushing the seven-day daily average to 2,491 and breaking a string of 20 consecutive days when the average fell.
Oakland County had the most new cases, with 496, though the county’s seven-day rate over the past week is still below the previous week, as is the case in almost every county as the second wave has lately subsided. — Mike Wilkinson and David Zeman
Monday, Dec. 28
COVID cases, hospitalizations, positive tests all dropping
Michigan health officials reported 3,239 new coronavirus infections on Monday, or an average of 1,619 for Sunday and Monday, the lowest daily totals since Oct. 20.
The counts could be affected by fewer tests over the Christmas holiday but they follow what has been a steady decline, with the seven-day average falling on 20 consecutive days dating to Dec. 9.
The daily average of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan — which hit a high of 7,270 on Nov. 21 — has fallen in 25 of the past 28 days, following mostly rising numbers in October and early November.
Likely as a result, there are fewer people to Michigan hospitals, with a huge drop in COVID-19 patients across the state. As of Dec. 23, the most recent date reported by the state, there were 2,811 patients being treated with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, a drop of nearly 300 patients, or roughly 10 percent.
The state, on Monday, also reported 60 new deaths over the past two days. That number is also relatively low given that December has been the second deadliest month of the pandemic with 2,366 deaths.
Likewise, the percentage of Michigan residents testing positive is far lower than weeks ago. The latest daily rate, for Dec. 27, was 8.7 percent positive, and it has been under 8 percent (7.7 percent) over the last five days.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she may lift some recent restrictions on businesses like restaurants in January if trends continue in a positive direction. Every metric that she said is guiding her administration’s controversial decisions is moving in the right direction: case counts are falling in every region, the percent of tests that are positive is falling and COVID-19 hospitalizations are falling. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Dec. 26
254 new deaths reported Saturday, pushing 2020 toll past 12,000
Michigan reported 254 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, pushing the total over 12,000 for the year and making December the second deadliest month since the pandemic began in March.
There are now 2,305 deaths in December attributable to the coronavirus, surpassing 2,282 in November. Only April, with 3,745, had more deaths.
The state’s latest data is the first since Dec. 23 because of the Christmas holiday, and the 7,341 new cases and 254 deaths covered three days.
That’s a daily average of 2,447 cases and 85 deaths. The case average is the lowest since Oct. 27 and pushes the seven-day daily average to 2,631, again the lowest since late October.
But the death data illustrate the severity of the second wave of COVID-19, when new cases approached 10,000 a day. Of the 254 deaths reported Saturday, 242 were in December, 11 in November and 1 in October.
Oakland County reported 32 of those deaths, Macomb County had 29 and Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had 22, while Kent County had 13 deaths.
Case counts are generally down statewide, a sign that hospitals will have fewer patients. In Wayne County, there is now an average of 300 cases a day, down from just over 400 a day the previous week.
Most counties are reporting similarly steep declines, while the rate of positive tests has been below 10 percent for the past 10 days, with a 7.1 percent positivity rate of the most recent day’s tests.
Over the last 10 days, an average of 8.7 percent tests were positive; down from 11.1 percent the previous 10 days. — Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Dec. 23
Cases fall before holiday
The spread of COVID continued to slow in Michigan, and the state’s top epidemiologist hoped aloud during a call with the media Wednesday that residents will avoid travel and gatherings through the holidays.
Cell phone data and survey results suggest that Michiganders on the whole heeded the pleas in November of hospital CEOs and state leaders by avoiding travel and multiple household gatherings over Thanksgiving. Sarah Lyon-Callo, state epidemiologist for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said she found the data encouraging as Christmas approaches.
Overall Michigan cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue to fall, as have the percentage of positive COVID tests, according to state data released later Wednesday afternoon.
MDHHS added another 3,443 confirmed cases of COVID Wednesday, bringing the total cases to 469,928. Daily new cases continue to drop — from a high of 7,205 on Nov. 20 to 3,311 Wednesday.
Another 70 MIchiganders died, according to Wednesday's data, bringing the state’s confirmed death toll to 11,775.
But the percent of positive test results — an indicator of community spread — fell again to a 7.8 percent Wednesday compared to a recent high of 10.9 percent on Dec. 13.
Meanwhile, the state continues to distribute vaccinations. As of Wednesday at 10 a.m., 37,660 vaccines had been administered of the 166,775 that had begun to arrive last week.
Tuesday, Dec. 22
Despite falling cases, deaths still high
Despite falling coronavirus cases, COVID-19 deaths still high
The number of confirmed coronavirus infections continues to fall in Michigan but the residual toll of the second wave continues to reverberate, with the state reporting another 173 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday.
The number of new infections, 3,082, pushed the seven-day average down to just under 3,400, the lowest it’s been since Nov. 3, two weeks before the peak of the wave.
But deaths lag cases by weeks and months and the 173 deaths reported Tuesday include 171 from December and one from both October and November. The state routinely looks at past deaths to determine if COVID-19 was the cause.
Oakland (15), Macomb (14) and suburban Wayne County (10), reported the most deaths, followed by Bay (9), Genesee (8), St. Clair (8) and Saginaw (8) counties.
So far in December, 1,997 people have died of COVID-19, making it the third worst month for deaths behind November (2,268) and April (3,745).
Case rates have fallen all across the state, with a seven-day average of 34 new daily cases per 100,000 people. Just six weeks ago, a number of counties had hit 100 daily cases per 100,000; only a handful (Presque Isle, 55; Gratiot, 54; Ogemaw, 53, and Huron, 51) were over 50.
The state is also quickly vaccinating people with the virus, with now over 26,000 having gotten either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. The state has received over 166,000 doses and distributed them across the state.
Testing data showed just under 10 percent of about 32,000 tests came back positive. The number of tests was the lowest daily number reported since October. — Mike Wilkinson
Vaccines to reach nursing homes in coming days
CVS Health and Walgreens are set to administer the first COVID-19 vaccines at Michigan nursing homes before the end of the year. One West Michigan long-term care facility said it will wait just a bit longer.
CVS Health on Monday launched its partnership with the federal government to vaccinate up to 4 million residents and staff at 40,000 long-term care facilities across the nation. Its vaccine campaign at hundreds of Michigan long-term care facilities is expected to begin Monday. Walgreens has a similar timetable.
Brian Pangle, president and CEO of Clark Retirement Community in Grand Rapids, said he was informed by Walgreens to expect the facility’s first vaccinations on Jan. 8. Pangle said vaccines will be given first to staff and residents at its skilled nursing facility, which has about three-dozen residents and a similar number of staff members. Residents and staff in Clark’s assisted-living and memory facilities would come later.
He said these vaccinations will come as a relief for staff and residents alike, as well as families with loved ones in the nursing home. Deaths in long-term facilities account for more than a third of overall COVID-19 deaths in Michigan.
Pangle said many family members have not seen residents in person for months because of state restrictions on visitation.
“It’s that light at the end of the tunnel. We can see this light that is starting to come our way,” Pangle said.
“Perhaps once these residents get vaccinated and other residents and staff at our other congregate living environments get vaccinated, maybe some of the visitation we’d like to see will start happening.”
Pangle expects a sizable majority of nursing home residents to be vaccinated, but perhaps only half of the staff.
“There are staff people saying, ‘I don’t want to get the vaccine. Gosh, I want to see what kind of adverse reaction there might be before I get it.’ But I’m hopeful that once a large number of staff have stepped up and gotten the vaccination, others will say, ‘There’s no reaction, I will get it,’” Pangle said. — Ted Roelofs
Monday, Dec. 21
COVID-19 data continue to offer hope; still, 71 more die
Michigan will receive another 60,450 doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine and 60,450 of Moderna vaccines through the end of the year, a state spokeswoman has confirmed.
The news can’t come soon enough for a pandemic weary state. For all the good news threaded throughout Michigan’s newest COVID-19 data Monday and efforts to distribute the vaccines, the virus continues to kill.
On Monday, deaths of 71 more Michiganders were linked to COVID-19, bringing the case count to 11,461.
In fact, the state confirmed another 4,551 cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, with the highest number of cases in southeast Michigan’s suburban Wayne (569 cases), Oakland (435), and Macomb (358) counties and in Kent County in West Michigan (345), bringing the total of cases for the state to 463,403 cases.
But there was promising news.
The state reported that 13,321 Michiganders had been given a first dose of a vaccine against COVID-19, up from about 2,700 Friday. About 140,000 doses had been delivered as of Monday.
Meanwhile, Michigan hospitals were caring for 3,179 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 as of Monday, the lowest number since Nov. 11 and in contrast to a peak of 4,326 Nov. 30. And positivity rates among tests fell to 8.4 percent for the second day in a row. In contrast, Michigan’s positivity rates were 16 percent less than three weeks ago, on Dec. 2. — Robin Erb
Saturday, Dec. 19
COVID-19 deaths again exceed 175 but new infections continue decline
For the ninth time in December, Michigan has reported more than 175 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, by far more than in any month since the pandemic began.
Of the 187 new deaths reported Saturday, 159 occurred in December and 28 occurred in November.
There have only been three other days with at least 175 reported deaths and all were in April, the deadliest month so far with 3,745 confirmed Michigan deaths linked to COVID-19. November was the second worst, with 2,237 deaths. After Saturday’s count, December has 1,758 deaths so far, with the Christmas holiday coming next week.
Deaths lag behind cases by weeks and even months and the higher mortality rates of recent weeks likely stem from the surge of cases that began in mid-October and peaked on Nov. 20 when the state reported nearly 10,000 new cases.
But case counts have steadily fallen since and the state fell below 4,000 on Saturday (3,896) for just the second time since early November. The seven-day average, now 4,010, fell for the 11th straight day.
Testing news remained encouraging as well, with the state reporting 9.1 percent of over 61,000 tests coming back positive, again the lowest in weeks and the third day in a row below 10 percent. Lower positivity rates tend to mean greater control over spread of the virus. — Mike Wilkinson
Unemployment extended in $465M COVID relief plan
Michigan lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have agreed to a $465 million coronavirus relief plan that extends unemployment benefits to 26 weeks from 20 through March and provides relief to small businesses and others struggling through the pandemic.
By a 35-2 vote, the Senate approved the measure late Friday, and the House is expected to do so Monday before adjourning for the year.
Some $220 million of the funding is for enhanced unemployment benefits, while the package also includes $48.7 million for health systems to administer COVID-19 vaccines.
The bill also sets aside $45 million for workers laid off by business closures due to state health restricts such as the closure of indoor dining. Workers could receive $1,650 apiece.
Much of the funding comes from federal sources. The bill also includes:
- $55 million for small business grants. Businesses forced to close could receive $20,000, while those that were partially closed could get $15,000.
- $22.5 million for testing in nursing homes, adult foster care, shelters and jails and schools
- $15 million for supplies such as PPE and dry ice to distribute the vaccine
- $10 million for hospitals for temporary staffing increases, with at least $2.5 million going to rural hospitals.
- $3.5 million for concert and entertainment venues, which can receive up to $40,000 apiece
- $2.5 million in grants for teachers, who can receive $500 apiece
Friday, Dec. 18
Vaccines ramp up, COVID trends positive
The number of people reported vaccinated against the coronavirus Friday doubled from the day before as the state has ramped up delivery of the vaccine.
Just over 1,600 people were vaccinated, up from 745 the previous day, according to new data. Michigan, like other states, is rushing to use as many of its first batch of 84,000 doses; another 60,000 are expected next week.
The push comes as confirmed coronavirus cases remained steady Friday, with nearly 4,200 new cases, which pushed the seven-day average down for the 10th straight day, to just under 4,100.
Other good news: The state’s test positivity rate was at 9.2 percent, the lowest since early November and the second straight day below 10 percent. And for the first time in weeks, no county was above 20 percent positivity.
The number of patients being treated for confirmed or suspected coronavirus fell again Friday and at 3,284 is over 500 fewer than a week ago, a dramatic decline. — Mike Wilkinson
Gretchen Whitmer pays tribute to Benny Napoleon
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday paid tribute to Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, 65, who died Thursday after a three-week bout with the coronavirus.
Whitmer said the longtime law enforcement officer would call her in support when she faced tough decisions about the virus.
Holding back tears at a media briefing, Whitmer said her “heart hurt.”
“He was very careful and he followed the protocols but despite that, even he contracted covid. And in a matter of three weeks, he went from testing positive to being hospitalized, to being put on a ventilator and passing away,” Whitmer said.
“So while I've stood her for approximately 80 press conferences over the past 10 months, stoic, and resolved and focused, today I am very sad.”
Napoleon was a fixture in Detroit law enforcement since he entered the city’s police force in 1975.
He was police chief from 1998 to 2001 and became sheriff in 2009. In 2013, he waged an unsuccessful campaign for mayor against Mike Duggan. In 2018, Napoleon was on Whitmer’s short-list for lieutenant governor, a post that eventually went to Garlin Gilchrist II.
“We have lost a true pillar in our community,” Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said in a statement.
“It seems like we have had to say too many goodbyes since COVID-19 hit our community. Benny’s passing reminds us of the short time we have to make the world a better place. I can honestly say the world is a better place because of my friend Benny, and I will miss him dearly.” — Mike Wilkinson
Thursday, Dec. 17
Michigan’s second shipment of the vaccine cut by over 25 percent
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has alerted the state that its expected allotment next week will decline 30 percent — 60,000 doses instead of 84,000.
The state was given no explanation for the reduction, said Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Other states have reported similar reductions. Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant that developed the vaccine with a German firm, BioNTech, has said in a statement it has plenty of vaccines to distribute and said it is not the source of the problem.
“This week, we successfully shipped all 2.9 million doses that we were asked to ship by the U.S. Government to the locations specified by them,” according to the Pfizer statement. “We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.”
The problem comes as an important advisory committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday gave its consent to a second vaccine produced by Moderna. Reports indicate the FDA could give it’s formal approval on Friday.
If so, Moderna has said it is ready to ship 6 million doses in the first week and Michigan public health officials have said they expect to receive over 170,000 initial doses. — Mike Wilkinson
Cases fall as deaths approach 200 a day
December has now become the third deadliest month for COVID-19, with over 1,500 deaths, according to new data released Thursday by the state.
Health officials reported 190 deaths Thursday, including 125 previous deaths now considered COVID-19 deaths.
Records on the actual dates of death show that seven of those reported Thursday occurred in November with the rest happening in December, which now only trails April (3,745) and November (2,235) for most deaths. (Bridge Michigan previously only calculated deaths by the month they were reported, with many deaths occurring in the weeks prior to reporting.)
Fortunately, the state is seeing fewer confirmed cases of the virus, which will reduce the number of hospital patients, already falling, and hopefully deaths. The state reported 4,024 cases Thursday, pushing the seven-day daily average to 4,234, the ninth straight day it has fallen.
Counties that had seen skyrocketing case counts just a month ago are all seeing declines; suburban Wayne County, Oakland and Macomb, which all had over 700 cases as recently as Dec. 4, were all below 500 Thursday (Wayne, 492; Oakland, 422; Macomb, 307).
Kent County reported 211 on Thursday, nearly one-third the Dec. 4 total of 610.
Hospitalizations fell the farthest they have since they started declining Dec. 1. There are now just under 3,400 people being treated for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, down 176 from Wednesday and the lowest number of COVID-19 patients since Nov. 13.
Testing data showed the percent positive was below 10 percent (9.6) for the second time in five days, with only one county, Hillsdale, over 20 percent (20.2). — Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Dec. 16
COVID-19 deaths cross 11,000 as case counts continue to fall
Michigan has now recorded 11,018 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, with 83 deaths reported Wednesday.
Including 570 probable COVID-19 deaths, Michigan’s total death toll of 11,588 ranks No. 8 in the nation. The state has the 10th largest population.
But other coronavirus data continued to show improvements. After testing data showed that more than 14 percent of all tests were coming back positive in late November and early December, over the last week the state has averaged under 11 percent and was at 10.5 percent Wednesday.
The state also reported just over 4,000 new confirmed coronavirus infections, bringing down the seven-day average for the eighth straight day. It stands now at roughly 4,500 new daily cases, down from 6,500 on Dec. 1.
Almost every county is seeing fewer cases and lower positive test rates, which has been driving a decline in the number of hospital patients being treated for COVID-19. — Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Dec. 15
Data suggest small, positive trends in COVID fight
As vaccines continued to be shipped throughout Michigan Tuesday, raising hopes for an end to the pandemic, other promising trends continued as well: drops in hospitalizations, daily cases, and positive test results.
Just more than two weeks ago, on Nov. 30, the state’s hospitals were caring for 4,326 patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID, including 531 on ventilators. By Tuesday, that number had dropped to 3,674 patients, a decline of 652 patients, according to the latest state data.
Of those, 508 were on ventilators.
Additionally, 4,730 cases were reported Tuesday, pushing down the 7-day rolling average to 4,631 cases and marking a steep drop from Nov. 21, when the average daily cases peaked at 7,270. Meanwhile, about 10.5 percent of COVID tests returned positive results in the data Tuesday — a decline from a 15 percent positivity rate Nov. 30. (The lower the positive testing rate, the better.)
As Bridge Michigan reported Monday, the downward trends are even more surprising against earlier concerns that Thanksgiving gatherings would fuel the spread of the virus. Hospital leaders and others pleaded with Michiganders to stay home over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, spotlighted the recent downturn in an afternoon news conference Tuesday: “We showed that we care about ourselves, our families and our community. Let's keep doing that,” she said.
Still, the numbers remain high overall. For two weeks in June, for example, the average number of new cases each day was less than 200, compared to a daily average throughout November and December that never dropped below 3,000 a day.
The virus also continues to claim many lives. On Tuesday, the state reported another 183 deaths, bringing the total number of Michigan deaths linked to COVID to 10,935. Of the new cases reported Tuesday, 71 were reported after a review of death records, including 68 deaths in December and 3 in November, according to a Bridge analysis.
Moreover, the state added another 4,730 confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the total to 442,715 cases this year.
Atty Gen. Nessel warns of scams offering vaccines
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel had a warning Tuesday for state residents worried about COVID-19: Vaccines, cures and treatments offered online are fraudulent.
Nessel said a number of scams are cropping up in which people are offered a wide range of products and treatments that do not work or are simply illegal cash-grabs.
"Early in the pandemic my office was made aware of retailers attempting to sell phony COVID-19 testing kits and fake COVID-19 protection patches and now as the vaccine for the virus is starting to be delivered around the country, bad actors again are attempting to scam consumers with false claims, products and services."
She said the scams range from pills, herbal teas and essential oils to social-media claims touting one vaccine over another.
In some, people are emailed an opportunity to become part of a vaccine trial but the real goal is to get the recipient to click on an email that could launch harmful software on their computer or phone.
"Do not buy a treatment or a vaccine online and always consult a medical professional and do not respond to text messages, emails or calls that offer you the vaccine," she said. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Dec. 14
Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, testing rates all lower
The state reported 7,205 confirmed cases over Sunday and Monday, or just over 3,600 a day, the lowest number since Nov. 3, Election Day, when 3,106 infections were reported.
It’s been a fairly steady decline from a peak of nearly 10,000 daily cases on Nov. 20.
But in the interim, hospitals across the state filled to near capacity and deaths from COVID-19 skyrocketed.
Over the past week, hospitalizations have slowly declined though the number of COVID-19 patients is still five times higher than it was even in early October. And deaths, which lag new cases by a few weeks, remain relatively high: the state reported 90 new COVID-19 deaths, or an average of 45 on Sunday and Monday.
New testing data show that the percent of those testing positive continues to fall, at 10.2 percent over the past two reporting days, when over 88,000 tests were administered. Just over two weeks ago, 16 Michigan counties had positive rates exceeding 18 percent; just Missaukee (18.3) and Hillsdale (23.2) counties currently are over that threshold. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Dec. 12
Coronavirus deaths highest since April 21 but case counts continue decline
Deaths from COVID-19 hit 206 on Saturday, the second-highest daily number of the pandemic, only topped by 232 on April 21.
However, 176 of those were earlier deaths now considered COVID-19 deaths after a review of medical records. Thirty of the total occurred in the past day.
Overall, new coronavirus infections continue to fall, to 4,486 on Saturday, bringing the seven-day daily average to just over 5,100. That dwarfs the worst days in the spring but is more than 2,000 less than Michigan was reporting just three weeks ago.
Case counts are falling sharply statewide. Average daily cases in suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, fell from nearly 700 two weeks ago to 571; Oakland has fallen from 644 to 504, Macomb from 644 to 466, and Kent from 474 to 385.
The biggest decline is in the Upper Peninsula, where the daily case rate per 100,000 fell 28 percent in the past week after being the highest in the state in October and early November. Other regions ranged from an 11 percent drop (the Wayne, Washtenaw and Monroe counties region) to 23 percent decine in the region comprising Oakland, Macomb and St. Clair counties.
Statewide, 10 percent of 56,500 tests reported Saturday came back positive, the lowest number since the state reported 10 percent on Nov. 6.
The 206 deaths, though, bring the December total to 1,528 in just 12 days. The state has reported 854 daily deaths and 674 that had occurred earlier but are now considered COVID-19 deaths.
Without a substantial drop in deaths, December will be the second worst month for deaths after April, when more than 3,500 died from complications caused by the coronavirus.— Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Dec. 11
Case counts continue slide, with 7-day average dropping
Michigan reported 5,157 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, pushing the seven-day average to just over 5,300, the lowest level since Nov. 11.
The state also reported 61 new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 10,456 since March.
There has been a great deal of variation in the past week, with daily case counts rising and falling over 1,000 cases, making it difficult to detect a trend. But since the state’s record high of 9,779 cases on Nov. 20, the seven-day average has fallen from 7,200 to 5,300.
Over that time, hospitalizations have fallen from a peak of just over 4,300 confirmed or suspected patients on Nov. 30 to just under 3,900 this week. It was just under 2,000 on Nov. 1 and 700 on Oct. 1.
Testing data showed that 11.7 percent of 58,500 tests came back positive, a slight uptick from Thursday’s reported 10.8 but below the 14 percent the state averaged from Nov. 28 to Dec. 4. — Mike Wilkinson
Michigan freezes minimum wage
The state’s lowest-paid workers won’t see a raise in January 2021 from the state.
Michigan’s minimum wage scale will remain at the same levels set on Jan. 1, 2020, according to an announcement made Friday by the Michigan Bureau of Employment Relations, Wage and Hour Division .
The state’s unemployment rate during the pandemic is the cause for the freeze.
According to the state, “Michigan’s Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act of 2018 prohibits scheduled minimum wage increases when the state’s annual unemployment rate for the preceding calendar year is above 8.5 percent.”
The annual average unemployment in the state from January through October is 10.2 percent, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Michigan’s October unemployment rate was 5.5 percent, with November numbers due next week. While unemployment fell in the fall, state officials say the rate is unlikely to continue to drop enough to bring the year’s average below the threshold that freezes the minimum wage.
As of the week ended Dec. 5, 700,104 Michigan residents were receiving or seeking jobless benefits. Some predict still more layoffs related to the recent health restrictions that closed some entertainment businesses, like movie theaters and non-tribal casinos, along with indoor dining.
For 2021, the minimum wage scale will be
- $9.65 per hour for regular minimum wage.
- $8.20 per hour for minors ages 16 and 17.
- $3.67 per hour for tipped employees.
- $4.25 per hour as the training wage for newly hired employees ages 16 and 17 for their first 90 days of employment.
The minimum wage was scheduled to increase to $9.87 per hour. It increased from $9.45 per hour to $9.65 in March 2019.
In 2018, 46,000 workers in Michigan earned minimum wage or below, or about 1.7 percent of the workforce. — Paula Gardner
Thursday, Dec. 10
Cases climb but test rates falls to lowest level in a month
Although Michigan reported nearly 6,000 new infections of the coronavirus, the percent testing positive fell to its lowest level in over a month.
Just under 11 percent (10.7 percent) of more than 58,800 tests were reported positive Thursday, lower than any day since 10 percent were reported positive on Nov. 6.
But both rates are more than triple the state’s target rate of 3 percent positive.
Health officials reported 5,937 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, up 1,000 from Wednesday.
Suburban Wayne County, with 794 cases, had the most in the state, followed by Oakland (611) and Kent (544). For each it was higher than the current seven-day average.
The state also reported another 182 COVID-19 deaths — 50 from the past day and another 132 from earlier deaths now blamed on the coronavirus after a review of medical records.
Of the deaths, 25 were reported in Macomb County, 21 in Oakland, 13 in suburban Wayne (excluding Detroit) and 12 in Kent. So far in December, the state has reported 1,261 deaths, the fourth most deadly month behind April, November and May but on pace to exceed all of those months.— Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Dec. 9
Hospitalizations, cases, positive test rates all fall
Michigan’s hospitals have seen a slow but steady decline in COVID-19 patients this week, falling below 4,000 statewide for the first time since Nov. 20.
The state reported 4,905 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the third day this week it was below 5,000; for 10 days from Nov. 19-28 the state averaged more than 7,200 daily cases.
The state also reported that 12 percent of nearly 46,700 tests came back positive — far higher than the target goal of 3 percent but below the 14 percent the state had been averaging as recently as last week.
Only Hillsdale County, at 21.5 percent positive the past week, is over 20 percent and most counties are showing declining rates.
Not all of the news was positive: The state also reported 75 additional COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, bringing the annual total to 10,213 and the total for December to 1,079 in just the first nine days of the month.
With the decline in cases, however, that’s meant fewer cases and fewer hospital patients: The state’s hospitals saw the COVID-19 census drop by 166 patients on Wednesday and it’s the seventh straight day the number has fallen after a meteoric rise from 700 patients on Oct. 1 to more than 4,300 on Nov. 30.
Every region in the state has seen fewer COVID-19 patients, the latest round of data show.
The drop in average new cases has been profound: Macomb County had averaged 745 new cases a day two weeks ago but is now at 552; Oakland County fell from 767 to 572; Kent County dropped from 559 to 431 average daily cases.
Only a handful of counties are seeing case counts rise, including Saginaw (137 a day to 177) and Grand Traverse (33 to 48). — Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Dec. 8
Michigan records 10,000th death, nearly 6,000 new cases
With 191 new COVID-19 deaths reported Tuesday, Michigan became the ninth state in the nation to report at least 10,000 deaths caused by the coronavirus.
The state has now recorded 10,138 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. Of the 191 reported Tuesday, 112 had occurred in the previous day and 79 were earlier deaths now blamed on the coronavirus following a review of medical records.
Oakland County (23) had the most reported deaths, followed by 19 from Macomb and suburban Wayne County. Kent County, Ottawa County and Detroit all reported 11.
The deaths come as the number of new cases has somewhat stabilized after weeks of rising. There were 5,909 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with suburban Wayne County reporting the most, 839, and Oakland County reporting 798.
The rate of new cases, though far higher than it was in October and earlier, has fallen in the past two weeks. Statewide, there were an average of 70 new daily cases for every 100,000 people on Nov. 21 but that has fallen to 63 daily cases per 100,000 since and in most counties the rate has fallen.
The release of hospital and testing data was delayed Tuesday afternoon. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Dec. 7
Michigan hits 400,000 confirmed cases
Michigan reported its 400,000 confirmed coronavirus case Monday, just over two weeks — 16 days — after recording its 300,000th case.
The state reported 9,350 cases on Monday, covering Sunday and Monday, for an average of 4,675 per day, well below recent levels and helping to lower the seven-day average to 6,200, the lowest level since Nov. 13.
It took 14 days for the caseload to rise from 200,000 to 300,000.
With 93 additional COVID-19 deaths, the state sits at 9,947 confirmed deaths, along with 475 suspected cases, soon to be the ninth state in the nation with at least 10,000 COVID-19 deaths.
If the trend of lower cases holds, it will be welcome news for hospitals across the state that have been taxed by high numbers of COVID-19 patients. The case numbers also show that a number of counties across Michigan are seeing lower numbers of new infections.
Just a few weeks ago, more than 10 counties were having more than 100 new daily cases per 100,000 people. As of Monday, none do, but the rates are significantly higher than they were before October.
Kent County, for instance, has seen its rate fall from 91 cases per 100,000 people two weeks ago to 62 new daily cases per 100,000 the past seven days. Bay County saw its rate fall from 102 to 71 new daily cases per 100,000.
The latest hospital and testing data were not available as of mid-afternoon Monday. — Mike Wilkinson
Michigan Legislature halts voting after Giuliani test
Michigan House speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, has canceled session on Tuesday after legislators may have been exposed to COVID-19 last week during a legislative hearing featuring Rudy Giulliani.
Giulliani, an attorney for President Donald Trump, tested positive for COVID, Trump announced on Twitter Sunday.
.@RudyGiuliani, by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, and who has been working tirelessly exposing the most corrupt election (by far!) in the history of the USA, has tested positive for the China Virus. Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2020
The former New York City mayor was a part of a hearing in Lansing Thursday where he testified and questioned witnesses without wearing a mask. He tested negative multiple times in the days leading up to the hearing.Chatfield said in a statement that no legislators require contact tracing, per CDC guidelines. — Mansur Shaheen
Saturday, Dec. 5
Nearly 200 COVID-19 deaths Saturday in horrific stretch
Michigan public health officials reported another 193 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday. That makes a five-day death toll of 720, the third-worst stretch since April.
The deaths include 48 from the past day and another 145 from earlier deaths now deemed COVID-19 deaths after a review of medical records.
The only other five-day counts that were worse were from April 21-25, when 806 deaths were reported, and from April 13-17, when 740 deaths were reported.
Also on Saturday, the state reported 6,004 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing Michigan’s overall total to 395,036. The state is likely to crest 400,000 cases by Monday, just two weeks after reaching 300,000 cases.
Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, recorded 23 deaths Saturday, leading the state, with Kent County reporting 18 and Macomb and Oakland counties reporting 16 each.
Saturday’s testing data showed that 14 percent of nearly 67,000 tests came back positive, a high rate suggesting the virus is spreading rapidly. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Dec. 4
Case counts continue to climb, 8,689 today
The number of confirmed new cases of the coronavirus rose in Michigan for the fourth straight day as the state reported another 81 COVID-19 deaths on Friday.
The state reported 8,689 new confirmed coronavirus cases, the highest since the state recorded 9,779 on Nov. 20.
Despite the one-day jump to nearly 9,000, most counties have seen the overall rate of new cases fall in the past week. But public health officials have feared that Thanksgiving family and social gatherings could spur another jump in cases, just as many hospitals in the state had seen the number of COVID-19 patients stabilize.
Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 943 new cases Friday and Oakland (775) and Macomb (757) were the next highest. Wayne County also had the most reported deaths, 10, with Saginaw County reporting seven.
The testing data reported Friday showed that 14 percent of 67,000 tests came back positive. Over the last five days, nearly 15 percent of more than 278,000 tests came back positive. One of the hardest hit areas currently is Hillsdale County, along the Indiana border, where a third of the 1,621 tests in the past week have come back positive. — Mike Wilkinson
In some cases, COVID quarantine can shrink from 14 to 10 days
The state health department has reduced the quarantine time for Michiganders exposed to COVID-19, reducing the period from 14 to 10 days under certain conditions.
The change was expected following new guidelines announced Wednesday set out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The previous 14-day recommendation was based on earlier data that estimated the COVID-19 incubation period. But estimates were refined based on case data for hundreds of thousands of cases. Data suggest that 99 percent of infections develop within 10 days of exposure.
While the 14-day quarantine period remains the standard, that period can be reduced to 10 days if both these conditions exist:
- The individual does not develop any symptoms or clinical evidence of COVID-19 infection for 10 days after the last exposure.
- Daily symptom monitoring continues through 14 days after the last exposure.
A full 14-day quarantine remains the safest option, said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in a statement about the new recommendations.
In its updated guidance Wednesday, the CDC also recommended further shortening quarantine to seven days if a person gets a negative test result, but only “when diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available.”
However, some labs in Michigan in recent weeks have reported a slowdown in testing turnaround times as the demand for testing increased. Most recently, the average turnaround time is just under three days, according to data released by MDHHS this week.
The state is considering this second CDC recommendation, but has not yet made a decision. — Robin Erb
Thursday, Dec. 3
State reports 175 deaths; nearly 16 percent of tests are positive
COVID-19 deaths continue to rise in Michigan with the state reporting another 175 on Thursday, including 63 in the past day.
The other 112 came after a review of the medical records from earlier deaths. Over the last week, Michigan is on pace for over 3,000 deaths in the next month, a number that would rival the 3,500 who died in April.
Suburban Wayne County reported the most deaths in the past day, 19. Oakland and Macomb reported 18 and Kent County reported 16.
But the state also reported another ominous number on Thursday: 15.9 – the percent of nearly 70,800 tests that come back positive. It’s the highest rate since April. Back then, however, just 7,000 tests were administered and it was far more difficult to get tested.
The state reported another 7,146 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, keeping the state’s rate at 67 new daily cases for every 100,000. On Nov. 1, it was 31.
Oakland and Macomb counties and suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most cases while Kent County, with 507, is experiencing a welcome decline in cases. Its rate per 100,000 has fallen from 107 two weeks ago to 61 new daily cases in the past seven days.
The number of people hospitalized for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 fell for the third straight day, with 4,175 patients statewide. — Mike Wilkinson
Nearly 7,000 new cases, 81 deaths reported
After several days of declining coronavirus cases, Michigan reported 6,955 new infections on Wednesday, pushing the seven-day average up nearly 400 daily cases to 6,917.
The increase comes after a holiday-weekend lull that had seen new case numbers fall below 6,000 for three days.
Metro Detroit saw the highest number of cases, with suburban Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties all reporting over 700 cases. Each of the counties, the most populous in the state, have seen the rate of new infections rise over the past week.
That’s in contrast with west Michigan, where case rates are now falling. Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon are seeing declining rates, which had been among the highest.
The state reported an additional 81 COVID-19 deaths, with 11 in Saginaw County and 9 in Genesee County.
The number of people hospitalized statewide fell on Wednesday, perhaps an indication that the rapid growth in COVID-19 patients outside of metro Detroit has abated.
West Michigan and most other regions have seen patient counts fall or stabilize in the past couple of days. But in the six counties of metro Detroit, the numbers have been relatively flat.
Testing data released Wednesday showed that 13.2 percent of tests were positive for the coronavirus. A revised rate for Tuesday showed positive test rates at 15 percent rather than the 14.7 percent reported Monday. – Mike Wilkinson
Some Michigan schools will stay remote until January amid COVID
Many Michigan students won’t be returning to classrooms until at least January as COVID roars through the state.
A Michigan Department of Health and Human Services order mandating a three-week closure of the state’s high schools ends Dec. 8, but many schools in some of Michigan’s most populous counties aren’t waiting to see if that order is extended – choosing to close buildings until after the winter break. Read more >
Tuesday, Dec. 1
Deaths soar to nearly 200, second highest in pandemic
Michigan reported 190 confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, including 160 in the past day.
It marks the second highest single-day death toll since the pandemic began, with Saginaw (17), St. Clair (16) and Muskegon (14) counties reporting the most deaths.
The overall count includes 30 previous deaths that are now considered COVID-19 based on a review of medical records.
The death toll obscures a continuing relative decline in new confirmed coronavirus cases, with the state reporting 5,793 new cases, a number that means the seven-day average has fallen for nine of the last 10 days.
It’s now at just over 6,500 cases, well below the 7,200 cases the state was averaging for the seven days preceding Nov. 20.
New case rates per 100,000 people have stabilized in much of the state as well, with many counties seeing the rate decline from the previous week, including Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties in west Michigan.
The other coronavirus numbers revealed both good and bad signs: Hospitalizations fell slightly after weeks of steady rises. But the test positivity rate hit its highest point since the spring, with 14.7 percent of over 35,000 tests reported Tuesday coming back positive.
Five counties now have a rate over 20 percent: Hillsdale, Benzie, Oscoda, Lapeer and Crawford, with four others at 19.6 percent or higher (Muskegon, Kalkaska, Tuscola and Montmorency). — Mike Wilkinson
Vaccine for health workers may arrive by next week
The first batch of COVID vaccine — “a few hundred thousand” doses — may begin to arrive for Michigan’s health care workers as early as next week, with a vaccine for the general public available as early as the spring, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive told Bridge Michigan Tuesday morning.
But Dr. Joneigh Khaldun also cautioned: Many unknowns can drastically change both quantities and the delivery schedule of vaccines. Read more >
Monday, Nov. 30
Michigan hospitalizations exceed 4,300
COVID-19 killed more Michigan residents in November than in any other month since April, according to the latest coronavirus numbers released Monday.
The state reported 1,794 COVID-19 deaths in November, second to the 3,500 who died in April, the worst month of the pandemic.
The state reported an additional 98 COVID-19 deaths Monday, covering Sunday and Monday, for an average of 49 each day. For the month, an average of 60 people died of the disease that has claimed 9,134 people, with another 434 probable COVID-19 deaths.
COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in Michigan this year after heart disease and cancer, the two biggest killers most years with more than 20,000 deaths each.
The state reported 10,428 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, for an average of 5,214 for Sunday and Monday. Oakland and Macomb counties saw the highest number of cases, about 550 a day, while Kent County, with 400 a day, has started to see a decline in new daily cases after a couple of weeks with the highest rates among the state’s most populous counties.
November’s 178,915 coronavirus cases almost equaled the number of cases the state had reported in the previous eight months combined (181,534 cases).
But Monday’s coronavirus report also showed that the state’s hospitals saw an increase of over 200 COVID-19 patients since Friday, with 4,326 patients being treated for confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The increase comes after a week in which the rate of growth slowed for the first time in weeks.
The biggest growth in new patients was in the metro Detroit region, with over 300 new patients compared to Friday as case rates in Oakland, Macomb and suburban Wayne counties have risen quickly.
The 13-county West Michigan region that had seen some of the highest rates saw a decline in hospitalizations, from a high of about 670 a week ago to 565 on Monday.
The state’s positivity rate rose over the weekend, with 13.8 percent of more than 103,800 tests coming back positive. The overall rate in the state had fallen to just over 11 percent last week. — Mike Wilkinson
Sat., Nov. 28
Third straight day of 8,000 cases
Michigan reported another 8,080 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Saturday, the third straight day of at least 8,000 but still below last week’s high of nearly 10,000.
Both Oakland County (1,058) and suburban Wayne County (1,048) reported more than 1,000 new cases on Saturday.
The state reported 103 COVID-19 deaths, 30 of which were over the past day and 73 of which were based on a review of health records from prior deaths. The state has now reported more than 9,000 COVID-19 deaths (9,036) since the pandemic’s start in March.
Of the deaths reported Saturday, 13 were in both Oakland and Macomb counties while eight were in Kent County.
For the month of November, Macomb has had the most deaths with 162 and has had 1,211 overall since March. Kent County has had 153, the second most in November, nearly half the county’s 338 deaths since the pandemic began.
Saturday’s testing data show that 11.7 percent of just over 57,000 tests came back positive. Only once since it was 10 percent on Nov. 6 has it been lower.
Four counties (Alcona, Muskegon, Benzie and Arenac) are over 20 percent over the past week and another 12 counties, including heavily populated Macomb County, are at 18 to 19.9 percent. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Nov. 28
17,162 cases over two days
After five days of mostly declining numbers of new coronavirus infections, Michigan reported its second-highest number of cases for the past two days: 17,162 for Thursday and Friday, an average of 8,581 per day.
The state also reported another 172 deaths, 104 of which were earlier deaths that are now considered COVID-19 deaths based on a review of health records.
So far in November, there have been 1,593 reported COVID-19 deaths, making it increasingly likely that the month will become the second deadliest following the 3,500 deaths in April. May is currently No. 2 with 1,702 COVID-19 deaths.
Macomb County led the in total new cases, with 1,846, or over 900 a day for Thursday and Friday. Suburban Wayne, excluding Detroit, and Oakland averaged about 900 cases a day, while Kent County averaged over 800.
Of the deaths, 23 were in Kent County, while 15 were in Macomb and 11 were in Oakland. Far less populous Jackson County reported 10 deaths, about 10 percent of the 98 total deaths reported there since the pandemic began.
The latest data included some encouraging news: The number of people being treated in Michigan’s hospitals has roughly stabilized this week, at nearly 4,100 patients.
That's 200 more than a week ago and 1,000 more than Nov. 11. Even so, the number of patients has risen only 50 since Monday after increasing several hundred every couple of days for the past few weeks.
And testing data shows the once steep increase in the positive rate, which soared from 3 percent on Oct. 7 to 14 percent on Nov. 9, has remained between 12 and 14 percent for two weeks. — Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Nov. 25
State reports 4,273 new cases
Michigan recorded its lowest number of coronavirus cases in nearly three weeks, with 4,273 new confirmed cases, and though hopeful, it’s unclear if it’s a trend.
The number of new cases is well below recent highs that approached 10,000 and is the lowest since 3,763 cases were reported Nov. 6. Since then, the state had averaged over 6,600 daily cases until Wednesday.
Since last week, state residents have been living with increased restrictions put in place by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration, including a call to close bars and restaurants to indoor dining and requiring all schools and colleges to cease face-to-face instruction.
Unlike the “stay-at-home” order in March, the new restrictions allow most retailers to remain open, including gyms, barbers and personal care facilities. Whitmer called for the new orders as cases were skyrocketing and hospitals across Michigan were filling up with COVID-19 patients.
There are currently more than 4,000 people being treated for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 across the state.
The state did report another 73 COVID-19 deaths, the second highest amount since early May.
Testing showed that 13.4 percent of 60,200 tests came back positive, still a very high rate compared to the 3 percent the state reported for most of the summer and through September. — Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Nov. 24
Daily deaths approach 100 in Michigan
Michigan reported 94 new coronavirus deaths Tuesday, the highest single-day number since the state reported 107 deaths on April 29.
Those deaths were among 145 total deaths reported Tuesday, with the state labeling 51 earlier deaths as having been caused by COVID-19 following a review of health records.
There have now been 1,348 deaths in Michigan in November, which means it's on for the second-worst month for COVID-19 deaths since over 3,500 died in April.
Just over two weeks ago, Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said some models predicted the state could see 100 deaths a day by the end of December if residents didn’t change behaviors and take appropriate steps to protect themselves, like wearing masks and practicing physical distancing.
Several weeks after the Upper Peninsula was hit hardest by rising caseloads, the 79 deaths there in November are the highest in the state, at 26 for every 100,000 people. Next worst is west Michigan with 20 deaths per 100,000, with 305 total deaths in the 13-county region surrounding Kent County.
The worst-hit county in total deaths has been Macomb, with 131, for a rate of 15 per every 100,000. But Muskegon, with 77 deaths, has had a far higher rate — 44 for every 100,000 people.
Detroit, which has experienced over 3,400 deaths since the pandemic began, has had one of the lowest death rates in November, with 4 for every 100,000 people. Statewide the rate is 13 deaths per 100,000 people.
One of the models that Khaldun cited Nov. 5 also predicted as many as 6,000 new daily coronavirus cases by January — but those numbers were reached less than a week after Khaldun outlined the potential for higher deaths and have largely stayed there or higher since.
After reaching record levels of cases multiple times a week the past few weeks, the state reported 6,290 new confirmed cases on Tuesday — a stunning number compared to even the first of the month, when Michigan was averaging 3,100 daily cases, but well below the 9,779 cases reported just five days ago.
It puts the state’s rate of new cases at 70 per day for every 100,000 people. It was 31 on Nov. 1 and just eight daily cases per 100,000 as of Oct. 1. The surge in cases has put Michigan hospitals on edge as over they deal with nearly 4,100 COVID-19 patients hospitalized across the state.
And the rise of infections appears to be unabated: Nearly 13 percent of 70,910 tests reported Tuesday came back positive, a clear sign of community spread. Three counties (Muskegon, Dickinson and Hillsdale) have rates over 20 percent over the past week and 26 others are over 15 percent. — Mike Wilkinson
Rite Aid will begin charging for tests but free options abound
Rite Aid will begin charging $115 for self-swab COVID-19 tests on Dec. 1, the company announced Tuesday.
But Michiganders shouldn’t take that as a sign that they’ll soon have to pay for COVID tests elsewhere, said Jeff Romback, spokesman for the Michigan Association of Health Plans, which represents most of Michigan’s largest insurers.
Health plans are still required to pick up the tab for COVID tests administered by any licensed provider, he said, and that commitment won’t end anytime soon. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act generally requires insurance providers to cover COVID testing.
“We don’t want the cost to get in the way of anybody getting a COVID test,” Romback said.
CVS, which has partnered with the State of Michigan to expand COVID testing, continues to offer cost-free tests, covered either by customers’ health insurance or by the federal government.
“Customers pay nothing,” company spokesman Charlie Rice-Minoso said. He added that CVS continues to add testing capacity and will have rapid tests available at 1,000 locations by the end of the year.
Other free options abound, too. Visit this state website to find a no-cost testing site near you. Some require appointments.
If you get your test at Rite Aid, be prepared to shell out $115 starting next Tuesday. The company will also add 1,000 new testing locations across the country and expand testing to people who are asymptomatic and people as young as 13.
Through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the company had previously offered self-swab testing for free to people 18 or older who showed symptoms. —Kelly House
Republican lawmaker calls for mask mandate
Michigan House Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming) joined with West Michigan physician Rob Davidson to call for the state Legislature to pass a law requiring masks to be worn indoors and in crowded areas outdoors.
Brann cites the 50,000 new cases the state recorded last week, many of which came in west Michigan, and dwindling hospital capacity as reasons for the mask mandate.
“The public health facts in West Michigan are changing rapidly and for the worse. Our family members, friends, and neighbors are becoming sick and dying at unprecedented rates, and our community hospitals are reaching a breaking point,” Brann said in a statement.
The move from Brann breaks from the rest of the state’s Republican Party, who have opposed mask mandates along with many other COVID-related restrictions. A conservative leaning state Supreme Court also struck down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers 5-4 in October.
“Bipartisan mask rules are cropping up around the Midwest from North Dakota to Iowa to Ohio — we applaud every elected official who steps up to the plate to protect their communities on this issue,” Davidson, who serves as the executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare, said.— Mansur Shaheen
Monday, Nov. 23
Michigan hospitals treating more than 4,000 patients
As coronavirus case counts continue to soar, Michigan’s hospitals are now treating over 4,000 people for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.
It’s the highest number of patients ever, exceeding the 3,986 the state reported on April 12.
But in the spring, 87 percent of the cases were in the six counties of metro Detroit. As of Monday, 47 percent of all patients are there — the rest, now over 2,100, are in hospitals across the state. That includes more than 700 in east-northeast Michigan and nearly 680 in nine counties of west Michigan.
On April 12, there were 280 patients in east-northeast Michigan hospitals and a scant 77 in west Michigan, one-ninth as many as there are now.
Statewide, there are 40 COVID-19 hospital patients per 100,000 people. But in the east-northeast region that runs from the Thumb, around Saginaw Bay and up along the Lake Huron coast, there are 64 patients per 100,000.
The state reported 11,511 new confirmed coronavirus cases, covering Sunday and Monday, or an average of 5,755. That’s lower than recent highs last week. Kent County, with 1,254 cases over two days, had the highest number of new cases, followed by Macomb (1,058) and Oakland (1,020) counties.
Testing showed that 13 percent of over 99,000 tests the past two days were positive.
Another 63 deaths were reported, for a November total of 1,203, the third most in a single month after April and May. The state is on pace for over 1,600 deaths, which would rival the 1,702 recorded in May (there were over 3,533 in April).
Of the 350 deaths reported in the last week, 146, or 42 percent, occurred in long-term care facilities, according to a weekly report by the state. That includes 109 in nursing homes and another 37 in homes for the aged and adult foster-care facilities. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Nov. 21
Another unwanted milestone: 300K confirmed cases
The state passed another unwanted milestone Saturday, blowing past 300,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since March. The total now stands at 302,705 after 7,528 new cases were reported. Just 15 days ago, Michigan reported its 200,000th case.
Some of the surge coincides with an increase in testing. On Saturday, test results were reported from 88,526 tests — the highest number of tests in a single day and a likely indication of pre-holiday testing that labs and health officials had predicted.
Even so, other factors suggest the virus remains largely out of control, with 11.3 percent of those tested producing positive results.
And what is just as important are those people who are going without testing, said Kerry Ott, spokesperson for the LMAS health department, which represents four counties in the eastern Upper Peninsula. On Saturday, LMAS reported that at least eight hunters from other parts of the state had tested positive for COVID-19 after spending a week together at deer camp in the Upper Peninsula’s Luce County.
None of the men was hospitalized, but had been tested after developing symptoms. Two others were considered “probable” cases because they also had symptoms but did not appear to have been tested, she said.
All 10 men have since left Luce County.
Michigan also logged 42 new deaths Saturday as well as 59 deaths from a review of past medical records Saturday, bringing the total number of deaths in Michigan to 8,478.
Friday, Nov. 20
Michigan sets record for most cases in a single day, 9,779
Michigan’s case count rose by 9,779 Friday — the highest single-day jump yet since the pandemic first hit Michigan, bringing the total number of cases to 295,177.
That also puts the state on track to pass 300,000 cases this weekend, just more than two weeks after it passed 200,000. There were also 53 new deaths among the new data Friday. As of Friday, 8,377 deaths had been attributed to COVID.
The highest numbers of cases were again reported in southeast Michigan and Kent County. Wayne, including Detroit, reported 1,369 cases; Oakland reported 1,295 and 922 — all levels that significantly increased their rolling average of daily cases from just a week ago.
But while total cases in Kent County were lower, the population difference put Kent County’s rate higher than those in southeast Michigan. Kent’s new 585 cases Friday put its rate at 101 per 100,000 people.
The increase there prompted Kent County’s health officer, Adam London, to issue a public warning that “conditions threaten their [hospitals’] ability to provide services essential for the health of the community.” London joined a chorus of elected and business leaders and health officials that this week have urged Michigandcers to reconsider Thanksgiving gatherings.
Other counties, too, continued to see cases surge, including in Gratiot County in mid-Michigan, where the rate tipped to 175 cases per 100,000 people. — Robin Erb
Michigan residents urged to resist ‘panic buying’ and stockpiling during pandemic
Tempted to stockpile groceries or household supplies as coronavirus cases escalate in Michigan? State officials urge you to reconsider.
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Gary McDowell, Michigan Retailers Association CEO William Hallan and Meijer CEO Todd Weer, vice president of stores, on Friday issued a shared statement responding to news that consumers may be buying larger quantities than necessary.
Anyone who’s shopped recently for paper towels or toilet paper already may know that. At least two big-box retailers have been limiting quantities for weeks, while online inventories of paper supplies are low or nonexistent.
The retailers and McDowell say the stock supply chain has enough to go around, but not when people stockpile beyond what they typically use in a short period of time.
“Michigan has an ample supply of food products and other items. But, when shoppers panic buy products like toilet paper, paper towels and other items, it creates a ripple effect within the supply chain,” said McDowell.
During the first wave of the pandemic, shortages of many items were reported and empty grocery store shelves showed the results. That created pressures in manufacturing and shipping, and also among consumers who didn’t have the resources to stockpile.
This time, retailers urge people to shop in one-week quantities. Stores will remain open, but under new 30 percent capacity guidelines. Masks also must be worn, according to state health guidelines.
“Buying what your household will use for the week keeps the supply chain moving, ensures everyone has access to what they need and allows the stores to replenish shelves for your next shopping trip,” McDowell said.
Thursday, Nov. 19
Michigan reports highest deaths in a single day, 86
Michigan reported 73 new COVID-related deaths in the last 24 hours — the highest single-day death count since May 4, when the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 86 new COVID deaths.
In contrast, the state’s daily death count had fallen to single digits — sometimes to no deaths at all — for all but 13 days throughout July, August and September.
As cases began to surge again in late summer, including those among young adults and college students, health officials had worried that they would spill over into a wider community spread, leading to more hospitalizations and eventually deaths, especially among older Michiganders and those with underlying conditions.
The state on Thursday also added 61 more deaths after reviewing medical records of those who had previously died, pushing the cumulative total to 8,324 deaths for the year.
The death count was another of a continuing increase in cases, deaths and hospitalizations. As of Thursday, 285,398 MIchiganders have been infected with the coronavirus since March. That included 7,592 cases that were added Thursday. — Robin Erb
As COVID cases rise, Whitmer urges social distancing, federal economic relief
Celebrate separately so you can spend next year’s holiday season “together, alive.”
That was the message from Michigan Chief Medical Executive Joneigh Khaldun on Wednesday as she and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave what Whitmer said was their final news conference before Thanksgiving.
“It is very likely,” Khaldun said, “that if you are gathering for Thanksgiving, the virus will also be around the table with you.”
The pair again asked people to cancel large holiday gatherings, and Whitmer called upon Michiganders to “shop local” while urging federal lawmakers to pass an economic relief package as businesses and workers brace for continued economic duress as much of the nation ramps up social distancing orders to contain the worsening pandemic.
“Every person in this country is depending on our federal government to step up here,” Whitmer said.
She also trolled Republican state legislative leaders, who have repeatedly complained that Whitmer has not included her in her pandemic response, to “share their plans” for responding to Michigan’s worsening pandemic.
“I am hopeful that when the Legislature returns from their hunting break, Republicans will share their plans for addressing these items,” she said.
After the Michigan Supreme Court limited Whitmer’s ability to rule by executive order during the pandemic, the Legislature struck a deal with Whitmer to continue expanded unemployment insurance eligibility through Dec. 31. With that cutoff date looming, Whitmer said another extension “should be of the first orders of business” when the Legislature returns from its break.
Nearly 3 million Michigan workers have applied for unemployment benefits since the pandemic began, she said, and more than 600,000 are still receiving benefits.
Whitmer and Democratic leaders in the state Legislature sent a letter to President Donald Trump and Congressional leaders on Thursday urging them to pass a COVID-19 relief bill to help states, businesses and workers weather the pandemic’s economic crisis. She said she asked Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders to sign on to the letter but they declined.
Michigan is in its second day of new statewide restrictions aimed at stemming the virus’ spread, and a day after the state epidemiologist warned that the state’s contact tracing tracing system is “becoming overwhelmed.”
New restrictions include canceling in-person classes at high schools and colleges, banning eat-in dining at restaurants and bars, banning indoor crowds of more than two households or 10 people and urging Michiganders to work from home if possible.
“We are doing our part when we protect our loved ones and stay apart this holiday,” Whitmer said. “You’re preserving future holiday gatherings together by taking this seriously now.”
Fear of a worsening crisis prompted Michigan Medicine and more than 100 other U.S. health care systems to launch a public relations campaign aimed at convincing people to wear masks that they say are the best hope of stemming an “alarming increase” in the virus’ spread in Michigan and across the nation.
“Despite what you might have heard about COVID-19 being not a big deal, that is simply not correct,” said Marschall Runge, CEO of Michigan Medicine and dean of the university’s medical school.
As of Thursday, 285,398 Michiganders had contracted COVID-19, and 8,324 had died. The state’s positive test rate was 12.5 percent. — Kelly House
Wednesday, Nov. 18
State reports 5,772 new cases as officials caution on holiday gatherings
A one-day drop in reported COVID case counts — from 7,458 Tuesday to 5,772 cases Wednesday — is likely a statistical blip rather than a signal that Michigan is beating back COVID, according to health officials.
By other measures, COVID continued its march throughout Michigan, according to state data released Wednesday. The daily 5,772 cases included 62 deaths, bringing the totals to 277,806 cases and 8,190 deaths since the onset of the virus in Michigan.
In the past week, an average of 6,945 tests have been positive among 57,636 tests each day, for a positivity rate of 12.1 percent. Seven counties, including four in the Upper Peninsula, chalked up positivity rates higher than 20 percent, according to Sarah Lyon-Callo, the state’s chief epidemiologist.
And that spells trouble for the coming days, she said.
“You can see how quickly our positivity is increasing, which is an indicator to me … that our number of cases are going to increase,” she said.
In fact, that positivity rate — along with case rates — has increased for seven or more weeks, she said. Confirmed cases per 100,000 Michiganders have climbed from eight on Oct. 1 to 70 Wednesday — a sevenfold increase, according to the data.
Meanwhile, COVID patients now fill 15 percent of the state’s available hospital beds.
Also climbing is the number of outbreaks, driven especially in long-term care facilities, schools, sports, workplaces and restaurants and bars, Lyon-Callo said.
The surge in cases has prompted business, health and elected leaders to ask Michiganders to cancel large holiday gatherings.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined six other governors in a video asking residents of those states to consider plans that will — as Whitmer said — “protect your loved ones and our front line workers as well as small business owners.” — Robin Erb
Tuesday, Nov. 17
Michigan sees two weeks of double-digit positivity rates
COVID test results have now entered a third week with statewide, double-digit positivity rates — another indicator of sustained community spread as Michigan’s total COVID case count reached 272,034 cases on Tuesday.
The World Health Organization and others say positivity should remain 5 percent or below for two weeks before governments reopen. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also considers positivity rates when assigning risk levels to counties.
Daily positivity rates in Michigan had fallen to below 3 percent through early summer but began inching up past 5 percent again by Oct. 16. By Nov. 2, positivity had soared to 10.5 percent, and it has remained in the double digits since then. As of Monday, positivity rates were at 14.3 percent for the state.
The community spread of COVID was reflected in other data the state released Tuesday, too. The state added 7,458 new confirmed cases and 79 deaths to its counts, including 24 from a review of medical records, bringing the total deaths to 8,128.
With such high community spread, public health departments, hospitals and testing sites have again adjusted policies. Hospitals have limited visitation again, and testing sites have begun prioritizing tests to those who are symptomatic or have a doctor’s orders.
Contact tracing also has become overwhelmed in places.
In Ingham County, contact tracers can’t keep up with calls, prompting the department to limit tracing to vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, cases involving a fatality, and to outbreaks in places, such as skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care settings, acute care settings, schools.
Anyone who tests positive is asked to quarantine for two weeks, Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said Tuesday.
“It is not a matter of just giving up fighting over waving a white surrender flag or anything like that,” she said, of limiting contact tracing. “It's just truly a matter of public health and widespread transmission and the fact that the tools that we use … just do not contain this level of widespread transmission.” — Robin Erb
School outbreaks more than double in three weeks
The number of Michigan K-12 and pre-K school buildings with coronavirus outbreaks has more than doubled in three weeks, according to a state report released Monday.
The report, which tallies new and ongoing outbreaks as of Nov. 12, reveals a steady climb in outbreaks in the state’s classrooms. There were 99 outbreaks in K-12 and pre-K buildings three weeks ago, with subsequent weekly reports tallying 126 and 163 cases. Monday’s report bumped the total of new and ongoing outbreaks to 210 in public and private schools. There are about 4,000 school buildings in traditional and charter school districts and private schools.
You can see the full report here.
State health officials define an outbreak as two or more cases linked to a place and time outside of a household. Most of the school outbreaks involve fewer than 10 cases.
The Monday report came a day after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services ordered the closure of the state’s high school buildings for three weeks, part of a sweeping set of orders that included closing college campuses, bars and movie theaters in an effort to blunt the fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
K-8 and pre-K students can continue in-person instruction under the rule, with that decision left to individual districts.
The outbreak data offer some clue about why high-schoolers are being asked to stay home and learn remotely, while young students can attend classrooms. Half of school outbreaks are at the high school level, and more than half of confirmed cases are in grades 9-12, according to outbreak data.
“There seems to be less spread even when there is an outbreak in the younger setting,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Sunday when the closures were announced. “And we know that the high school students, it’s easier for them to learn online.”
Monday’s report listed 31 ongoing outbreaks on college campuses, with the largest being 998 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; 835 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo; 283 at Adrian College; 198 at Ferris State University in Big Rapids; 144 at Hope College in Holland; 101 at Northwood University in Midland; and 92 at Calvin University in Grand Rapids. – Ron French
Monday, Nov. 17
Weekend tally pushes case count past 264K
Continued spread of COVID-19 throughout much of Michigan drove the statewide total to 264,576 Monday. Included in the two-day case total of 12,763 cases were 55 deaths.
At the same time, COVID patients continued to fill Michigan’s hospitals.
As of Monday morning, hospitals were caring for 3,580 patients, including 22 children, with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Of those patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, 749 were in intensive care; 343 were on ventilators.
And while patients were filling hospitals throughout much of the state, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in particular noted the surge in Detroit in the past weeks, as he called on residents to report violations of pandemic orders during a midday news conference.
In Detroit, hospitals were caring for 146 patients COVID patients, he said. At the current trajectory, that means 600 patients at those hospitals in the next two weeks.
“This is the trend line that we are on and why we have to act and we have to take this seriously,” he said. — Robin Erb
Saturday, Nov. 15
State confirms 7,072 new cases, 65 deaths
The recent surge of COVID-19 has dramatically increased the state’s average daily caseload, as total infections climbed Saturday to 251,813 cases since the pandemic began in March.
On Saturday, the state confirmed 7,072 new cases and 65 deaths, including 36 after reviewing medical records of prior deaths. That increases the state’s seven-day daily case average to 6,288, up from 4,395 just seven days ago.
And while Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties in southeast Michigan and Kent County in west Michigan had the highest number of new cases, infection rates are highest in three counties in the less populated Upper Peninsula — Baraga, Dickinson and Delta.
Macomb County reported 874 cases on Saturday, for instance, for a rate of 71 cases per 100,000 residents. Dickinson County in the western U.P., meanwhile, reported 36 cases for an infection rate of 158 per 100,000 people. — Robin Erb
Friday, Nov. 13
Michigan sets another single-day record with 8,516 new cases
The new cases, which brought the state-wide total of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 244,741, seemed to confirm grim warnings from a day earlier, when hospital leaders and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration pleaded with Michiganders to ditch normal holiday plans and step up vigilance against the virus.
The state also added 118 deaths Friday, including 83 found during a review of medical records of prior deaths, bringing the total to 7,929 COVID-related deaths. That’s the highest daily count of deaths since 133 deaths were reported back in the spring, on May 9.
Perhaps most indicative of the rocketing spread of the virus is the rate at which people who take the test are found to be positive. Earlier this fall, the positive rate was below 3 percent, indicating the virus was largely under control. But the rate passed 10 percent on Nov. 2 and this week hovered between 12.0 and 14.3 percent. Those are levels not seen since April, when 13.9 percent of the limited number of tests at that time were positive.
— Robin Erb
COVID rips through Legislature; 4 members infected in recent days
At least two House Republicans and a Senate Republican tested positive for COVID-19 this week, and officials in the Michigan Legislature say they aren’t sure how many more may have been exposed.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week and missed a session this week while recuperating at home.
LaSata’s case appears especially concerning because she was at the Michigan Capitol on Thursday, where she attended Senate session and four committee hearings while awaiting results from a test she took a day earlier as part of what she called a “routine” medical checkup.
“Since I had no knowledge that I was exposed to the virus and experienced no symptoms, I attended Senate session and committee hearings as normal on Thursday,” LaSata said in a statement.
“Upon my diagnosis, I began informing individuals I had been in close contact with and decided to inform my constituents and the public as well to reinforce that COVID-19 is in our community. It is real and can infect anyone.”
WILS reported Thursday that House Republicans are concerned that other lawmakers may have been exposed to the virus last weekend at “a large post-election party” at the home of Rep. Gary Eisen, R-St. Clair Township.
House GOP leadership has declined to disclose the total number of cases among members and staff despite repeatedly urging transparency from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, nursing homes and other entities grappling with COVID cases.
“Personal medical information is… up to the individual employee to announce or not,” said Gideon D’Assandro, a spokesperson for House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering.
“On top of safety precautions for staffing, social distancing and cleaning, encouraging and funding rigorous testing, the House is following all CDC guidelines for contact tracing to help keep anyone who comes in contact safe,” he said. — Jonathan Oosting
Thursday, Nov. 12
Another COVID record with 6,940 cases
For the fourth time in the past week Michigan saw a record number of new coronavirus infections, with 6,940 reported Thursday, along with 45 deaths.
State health officials have warned that deaths could hit 100 a day in a month unless cases stop growing in number. There have been 471 deaths reported in the first 12 days of the month, on pace to exceed 1,200.
Four counties reported at least 600 new cases including Kent (693), Oakland (654), Macomb (626) and suburban Wayne (609).
But elevated counts were also reported in less populous counties, including Ottawa (330), Ingham (217) and Genesee (209).
Kent County is now averaging 81 new cases a week per 100,000, up from 65 new daily cases per 100,000. The state rate is 55. Although the rate in Detroit is rising, it’s still well below the state and most other areas, at 17 new daily cases per 100,000 people.
The state test positivity rate was 12.3 percent, a bit lower than the 14 percent recorded in previous days. But most counties are over 10 percent and rising.
The state hospitals reported another 116 patients treated for COVID-19 on Thursday, with over 3,200 hospitalized. That’s up nearly 1,500 patients, or 85 percent, since Oct. 30.— Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Nov. 11
Coronavirus cases exceed 6,000 again as hospitalizations top 3,000
Michigan reported 6,008 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Wednesday, along with 42 deaths and the hospitalization of more than 3,000 people.
The caseload included a new record for Oakland County, 778, pushing its rate per 100,000 to 46 new daily cases, up from 29 a week before.
For the second straight day, positive tests hovered around 14 percent, with 13.8 percent of nearly 55,000 tests coming back positive.
West Michigan has had cases skyrocket and Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum West, part of Spectrum Health, said the system has limited some procedures, curtailed visitors and begun limiting tests only to those with coronavirus symptoms.
The number of patients in the system’s 13 hospitals is approaching 300, triple what it was in October.
“This is very serious and we have been in contact with every single hospital in our region,” he said during a Wednesday press conference. “We are getting to a point where if we don’t have the public helping us you’re going to see a lot more patients in the hospital [and] a lot more patients die and it will not be a pleasant sight.” — Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Nov. 10
Michigan sets COVID-19 daily record
Michigan set a daily record for coronavirus cases for the fourth time in seven days, with 6,473 new cases on Tuesday and 84 deaths, which is the most since early May.
The surge is fueled by Michigan’s most populous counties, which also hit record highs, including Kent (851 new cases), Macomb (773), Oakland (689) and suburban Wayne (603).
The new highs in rates come as the state positive test rate hit 14 percent, its highest since the spring when tests were less available. The rate over the past three days has exceeded 12 percent over nearly 138,000 tests.
The deaths included 10 in suburban Wayne and Muskegon counties, nine in Macomb and eight in Kent. The state also reported 59 deaths from the past day and another 25 after a review of the medical records of prior deaths.
Kent County has recorded 39 deaths in November, the most in the state, followed by 38 in Wayne County and 32 in Macomb. Kent is the fourth-most populous city in the state but has been among the hardest hit counties in recent weeks.
The uptick is also hitting metro Detroit hard, with most counties experiencing thousands of new cases each week as hospitals start to fill with COVID-19 patients.
The number of people treated for COVID-19 has quadrupled since Oct. 1, with over 2,800 hospitalized statewide. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Nov. 9
Nearly 12 percent (11.5 percent) of 87,000 coronavirus tests reported Monday came back positive as the state reported 9,010 new confirmed infections.
The cases cover both Sunday and Monday, for an average of 4,505 each day. It pushed the state’s seven-day average to another new high, 4,559, or 45 new daily cases for every 100,000 people.
That rate had been about 19 new daily cases just two weeks ago. The state considers anything over 15 daily cases an indicator of high rates of community spread of the disease.
The state also reported 62 new deaths, marking 300 in November, putting the state on pace for more than 1,000 deaths.
A number of those deaths are occuring in increasing numbers in the state’s long-term care facilities. New details published Monday showed 83 deaths at nursing homes, homes for the aged or adult foster care in the past week, up from 55 the prior week. That represents 42 percent of the 198 total deaths reported in the past week. — Mike Wilkinson
Been exposed to COVID-19? A new app will let you know.
Michigan launched the statewide rollout of a voluntary, free smartphone app Monday that notifies users if they have might been in close contact with people infected with COVID-19.
State health officials began piloting the technology in Ingham County, home of Michigan State University, more than three weeks ago. Since then, more than 46,000 people - or about 16 percent of the county’s population -- downloaded the MI COVID Alert app.
Users who test positive for the virus are given a PIN by contact tracers that allows them to share their result anonymously on the app, which uses randomly generated phone codes, instead of GPS, to track people's locations but maintain their privacy. Any app users who may have been within 6 feet of infected people for at least 15 minutes are notified and urged to be tested and self-isolate. They are not told who tested positive.
“This app has the potential to provide the kind of early exposure notification that is critical to preventing the spread of the virus,” Dr. Norman Beauchamp Jr., Michigan State University’s executive vice president for health sciences, said in a news release.
“In addition to wearing a mask, social distancing and getting tested, downloading the app is one of the most important steps we can take to help keep our communities safe.”
State public health officials said use of the technology could reduce infections and deaths.
The rollout of the app comes as nearly 12 percent (11.5 percent) of 87,000 coronavirus tests reported Monday came back positive as the state reported 9,010 new confirmed infections.
The app can be downloaded in the Apple and Google app stores.
Alabama, Arizona, New York, Alabama, Virginia and New Jersey have similar apps. — Monica Williams
COVID outbreaks increase in K-12 schools, drop in colleges
The number of new and ongoing outbreaks in Michigan preschool and K-12 schools jumped 29 percent in a week, according to a state report released Monday.
According to the report, as of Nov. 5, there were new or ongoing outbreaks in 163 school buildings across the state. That’s up from 126 the previous week and 99 two weeks ago.
State health officials define an outbreak as two or more cases linked to a place and time outside of a household. Most of the school outbreaks involve fewer than 10 cases.
The largest new outbreaks among K-12 schools are 10 cases at Baraga Area Schools in the Upper Peninsula, and 10 cases at Owosso High School in Shiawassee County.
COVID-19 cases linked to outbreaks at Michigan colleges declined in Monday’s report, with 4,079 confirmed infections on 28 campuses, a decline of 8 percent from the 4,431 reported last week.
There is a new outbreak at Hillsdale College involving 18 cases, and 12 at Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing.
Among ongoing outbreaks, there were 1,064 at the University of Michigan, where the university last week announced it was closing its residence halls for the semester that begins in January in an attempt to tamp down infections. There were 968 at Grand Valley State University in Allendale; and 823 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.
The report offered good news for Michigan State University. After struggling with large outbreaks in September, MSU fell out of the new and ongoing outbreak report for the first time this fall. — Ron French
Record number of cases in metro Detroit counties
New details released Monday on Saturday’s record count of new confirmed coronavirus cases shows that Oakland County reported 654 cases, by far its highest, as neighboring Macomb had 563 and suburban Wayne had 553.
The state reported over 6,200 new cases Saturday, a record, but technical problems caused a two-day delay in releasing some of the details on where the new cases and the 65 deaths occurred. Forty-two of the deaths were prior ones now ascribed to COVID-19.
The surge of cases in metro Detroit, which has over 45 percent of the state’s population, shows the quick rise in infections has now moved across much of the state. The Upper Peninsula was the first hit by this second wave, followed by west and southwest Michigan.
Just three weeks ago, the state was averaging about 13 new daily cases of the coronavirus for every 100,000 — a seven-day average of about 1,300 cases a day.
With Saturday’s cases, the daily rate is 42 per day per 100,000, or a seven-day average of 4,200 cases. Muskegon, with 377 cases Saturday, is now reporting an average of 92 new daily cases per 100,000, up from 44 in the previous week.
The state, using a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guideline, considers any daily rate over 7 daily cases per 100,000 to be an indication of medium to high level of community spread.
The surge in cases has also triggered a steep increase in COVID-19 hospital patients, with more than 2,400 in the hospital as of Friday, up over 1,200 in three weeks. Deaths have risen too.
Of the 65 deaths reported, 10 were in Macomb County and six were in both Oakland and suburban Wayne counties. Muskegon and Genesee counties reported five each. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Nov. 7
Michigan sees new record, topping 6,200 new cases
Michigan health officials reported 6,225 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, yet another daily record since the pandemic started in March. The state also noted another 65 deaths, the most since late May.
Forty-two of the deaths were earlier deaths that were recorded as COVID-19 deaths Saturday after a review of health records. The other 23 were from the past day.
The previous daily case record was on Thursday, when 5,710 daily cases were reported, which was a huge increase over the previous record on Wednesday. It puts the state’s seven-day average at just over 4,200, its highest ever, and the state’s rate of new cases per day for every 100,000 is now at 42, also it’s highest level.
With lines reported at testing sites across the state, Michigan reported a record 75,552 tests Saturday, with 9.9 percent – 7,484 – coming back positive. Some of those tests are from people who previously tested positive to determine whether they were clear of the disease.
The state, however, has not released details on the day’s numbers that show where the new cases occurred. Bridge Michigan will update its graphics when those numbers become available.– Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Nov. 6
Rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over the past three weeks have led to the highest one-day death toll, 43, since May as the state also went over 200,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The deaths included eight in Kent where cases are rising among the fastest in the state, and four in Kalamazoo county. Hospitalizations jumped another 145 on Friday, to 2,425. It was only higher in the early parts of April and 80 percent of cases were in metro Detroit.
Kent, suburban Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties all had over 300 cases while other parts of west and southwest Michigan, including Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo and Calhoun continue to see rising case levels.
Positive test levels remained above 10 percent for the fourth straight day, with 16 counties above that level, including seven of the Upper Peninsula’s 15 counties.
The state’s daily rate of new infections per 100,000 people stood at 39. It was 29 a week ago and 19 two weeks ago.
Three counties are over 100 per day per 100,000 (Ontonogon, Delta and Dickinson) and another 17 are over 50. Detroit, which saw the most cases and deaths early in the pandemic, has one of the lowest rates in the state at 12 cases a day for every 100,000 people. — Mike Wilkinson
Michigan sets another case record
Michigan saw a record number of coronavirus cases for the second day in a row. The state reported 5,710 new cases as the positive test rate stayed above 10 percent for the third consecutive day.
On Wednesday, the reported 4,100 cases set a record. The cases reported Thursday include more than 600 cases in Oakland (638), Macomb (620) and Kent (614) and pushed the state’s daily rate of new cases to 38 for every 100,000.
But that number now stands at 65 daily cases per 100,000 in Kent as 10 Lower Peninsula counties are now above 50 daily cases per 100,000, joining 10 Upper Peninsula counties already at that level.
The stunning rise in cases has alarmed state officials, including Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for Michigan.
"There’s a model that shows if this trend continues, we could be losing 100 people a day around Christmas here in Michigan. That’s a devastating thought,” Khaldun said during a Thursday news conference. “That’s why we are really urging people to double-down on the protocols that we know will keep people safe."
With the holidays approaching, Khaldun warned about the dangers of bringing different generations together; the disease has been far more deadly for elderly patients. "That’s the exact kind of moment that we worry we’ll see additional spread," she said.
Hospitalizations are now at 2,280 statewide for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, up 62 from Wednesday and up 650 in a week.
Among the 51 deaths reported Thursday, 25 were from the past day and 26 followed a review of previous deaths. Since the pandemic began, 7,470 Michiganders have died of COVID-19.
Robust testing of more than 61,000 people showed 6,300 positive in Thursday’s report, marking the third day the positive rate was over 10 percent, a sign of community spread. — Mike Wilkinson
Unemployment claims fall; Michigan unemployment cases hit record
Michigan saw a decline last week in initial unemployment claims, which fell as of the week ended Oct. 31 to 12,862. That’s a decline of 5,220 from the previous week.
However, the weekly report from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics also gives a glimpse into the duration of job losses during the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of jobless Michigan residents who exhausted 26 weeks of regular unemployment and turned to extended benefits jumped in one recent week by 200 percent. As of Oct. 17, the most recent date available, 25,867 jobless workers moved onto extended benefits, leaping up from 8,486 a week earlier.
People applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in Michigan saw a slight decline as of Oct. 31: The 10,670 applicants represented a drop of 889 from a week earlier.
The total of 2.89 million claims for unemployment have been filed in Michigan since March 15, according to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency data dashboard.
Nationally, new unemployment claims dropped by 1 percent. New claims last week totaled 751,000, down by 7,000.
The United States also saw increases in people moving from regular to extended benefits. Thirty-seven states saw increases, with a total 175,123 newly considered long-term unemployed. — Paula Gardner
Wednesday, Nov. 4
Michigan cases hit new record
More than 4,100 new coronavirus infections were reported Wednesday, the highest yet, as the state saw the number of people hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 rise by 156 since Tuesday, hitting 2,215 statewide.
The state reported another 19 deaths as well, bringing the total of confirmed COVID-19 deaths to 7,419. With 79 deaths so far in November, the state is on pace to exceed the 580 in October, which was the third most deadly month after April and May.
For the second consecutive day, over 10 percent of coronavirus tests came back positive, a sign of community spread of the disease.
Cases continued to surge in Kent County in west Michigan, with another 465 cases on Wednesday, pushing that county’s rate to 59 cases new daily cases per 100,000 people. The state rate is 35.
Cases are rising in numerous other counties across west and southwest Michigan, including in Muskegon, Calhoun and Ottawa. But they are rising in Bay and Saginaw counties to the east and throughout the northern lower peninsula and metro Detroit. — Mike Wilkinson
Ottawa County health officials “properly closed” a West Michigan K-12 school when the school failed to enforce the state’s mask order and refused to cooperate with contact tracers after two teachers fell ill with COVID-19, a federal judge has ruled.
An attorney for Libertas Christian School in Hudsonville said the school will appeal the constitutional questions raised by the case: whether the state order infringes on the school’s First Amendment rights to assemble and religious freedoms.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Maloney in the Western District of Michigan, ruled Tuesday that the Ottawa County health department acted properly within its authority under state pandemic orders. But he also wrote that it’s up to state courts — not the federal court system — to first weigh in on Libertas’s claims that the health orders violated the school’s constitutional freedoms.
Attorney Ian Northon, who represents the school, told Bridge Michigan Wednesday that the federal court, in fact, does have jurisdiction to rule in such First Amendment matters.
Northon added that the judge’s finding that Libertas has not been harmed by the health orders is “a misapprehension of the current state of the law.” The school has been closed for more than two weeks, and the students have no way to assemble for class or attend its chapel worship, he said.
Maloney’s 27-page opinion follows weeks of back-and-forth between the school and local health officials. Despite state orders, the school made it clear in a letter to parents at the beginning of the school year that it did not intend to force staff and students to wear masks.
In a four-page letter July 13 that draws heavily from the Old and New Testaments, Libertas headmaster Bob Davis told parents that the state’s orders were based on lies as a way to turn people toward the government and the promise of a vaccine instead of turning them toward God.
The ensuing face-off between the county health department and school exploded in mid-October when two teachers were infected with COVID-19. On Sunday, Oct. 18, the school filed a complaint in federal court asking the court to stop the interference by the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. The health department, meanwhile, issued a series of cease-and-desist orders against the school, then finally posted signs on the school’s door Oct. 22, ordering it closed.
Maloney, nominated to the court by President George W. Bush in 2007, refused to strike down the state’s order or reverse the closure. He also refused to stop the county from demanding information from school officials so health workers could conduct contact tracing to help slow the spread of the virus.
“The County has established that such measures are a necessary tool to slow the spread of the virus,” the judge wrote. “The county likely has no other means by which it can gather the requested information.” — Robin Erb
Tuesday, Nov. 3
Hospitalizations over 2,000 as positive test rate goes above 10 percent statewide
Michigan crossed two unwanted thresholds Tuesday in its battle with the coronavirus: There are now 2,059 people being treated in state hospitals for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 and 10.1 percent of all tests reported today came back positive — both levels not seen since early May.
Hospitalizations rose in a number of regions, especially south-central Michigan, the northern portion of metro Detroit and the northern Lower Peninsula. The state’s hospitals are treating 1,000 more COVID-19 patients than they were just over two weeks ago.
Those trends are likely to continue with the positive test rate hitting 10.1 percent positive Tuesday. It is at nearly 8 percent positive over the past week.
The state reported another 3,106 confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday and 43 deaths, 26 over the past day and 17 following a review of earlier death records. The 26 deaths is the second highest single-day number since June.
Seventeen counties now have a daily case rate above 50 new cases for every 100,000 people, with Dickinson County in the Upper Peninsula at 105. The state’s rate is now 34 new daily cases for every 100,000. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Nov. 2
Case rates rose again throughout Michigan with a number of counties now seeing 50 new cases a day per 100,000.
Most of those counties had been in the Upper Peninsula but with Monday’s reported 6,709 cases for Sunday and Monday, six Lower Peninsula counties, including Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties, now have rates that high.
As a state, the rate is now 33 cases per day for every 100,000. It was half that just two weeks ago.
Those increased case counts are again pushing many into Michigan hospitals, which are currently treating 1,966 patients, up over 200 from Friday.
The biggest increases were seen in the six counties of metro Detroit, where hospitalizations rose by a third to 895, up 224 from a week ago.
But every region in the state except the Upper Peninsula, which already is at its highest coronavirus patient census, is seeing a steady increase in emergency room visits and hospital admissions.
The last time hospitals had this many COVID-19 patients in early May, metro Detroit had over 1,200 COVID-19 patients and the west Michigan region anchored by Grand Rapids had 111. Now, metro Detroit has 895 while west Michigan has 312 patients.
Testings rates over the weekend remained high, with 7.5 percent of nearly 97,000 tests coming back positive. A month ago the rate was 3 percent. — Mike Wilkinson
Deaths at Michigan senior citizen facilities higher than earlier reported
Michigan public health officials released new data Monday that show the number of COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities is much higher than previously reported, with 371 more deaths at homes for the aged and adult foster care facilities.
Previously the state reported 2,222 resident deaths and 22 staff deaths at more than 400 nursing homes. The inclusion of the other two types of facilities, designed to match federal data collection efforts, adds 290 deaths at homes for the aged and 85 at adult foster care facilities. It also includes two staff deaths at homes for the aged.
The deaths until now had not been included among the fatalities in long-term care facilities. The changes mean that 35 percent of all COVID-19 deaths occurred at some sort of long-term care facility, up from 30 percent.
The overall numbers could rise even higher: Only 32 percent of the 604 adult foster care facilities reported to the state and 60 percent of 301 homes for the aged. In contrast, 97 percent of 442 nursing homes have reported.
The median age of those dying from COVID-19 death is 77 in Michigan. — Mike Wilkinson
K-12 school outbreaks rise 26 percent in a week
The number of new and ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in Michigan school buildings rose again in the past week, according to a state report released Monday.
According to the report, as of Oct. 29, there were confirmed outbreaks in 126 school buildings, up from 99 the previous week. Infections connected to school outbreaks reached 606, from 482 a week earlier. The largest new outbreak: 11 high school students at Benzie Central Community Schools, in Benzonia, near Frankfort.
College outbreaks have leveled off, with 4,431 cases linked to ongoing outbreaks on 25 campuses, according to the report. There were 4,409 the week prior. The report listed no new college outbreaks.
State officials define an outbreak as at least two cases linked to a similar time and place. — Ron French
Saturday, Oct. 31
Positive test rate hits 9 percent; Michigan sets another COVID record
Michigan set yet another daily record Saturday by recording 3,792 new COVID-19 cases, with the rapid spread further underscored by a positive test result rate rising to 9.1 percent.
Hospitalization and death levels are also on an upward trend as autumn unfolds.
Kent County reported over 400 cases for the second day in a row and the metro Detroit counties of Macomb, Oakland and suburban Wayne reported over 300. Detroit, which has seen relatively few cases and had been averaging fewer than 40 daily cases, reported 100 on Saturday.
The rapid increase in new cases has pushed the state’s daily rate of new infections to 29 for every 100,000 people, double what it had been just two weeks ago.
Those infections have pushed hundreds of new patients into Michigan hospitals. Numbers released Friday showed there were nearly 1,730, up 700 in two weeks.
Testing, which has been robust for months, is revealing more and more cases with 18 Michigan counties now having a positive rate above 10 percent over the past week and 10 others between 9 and 10 percent. Those sharp increases indicate more undetected cases are spreading through communities.
The World Health Organization had set the level for the safe opening of the economy at 5 percent of tests coming back positive; Michigan had targeted a rate of 3 percent, which it held for nearly four months until this recent second wave.
The state reported another 31 deaths on Saturday, including 20 that were earlier deaths now attributed to COVID-19. That brings October’s death toll to 580, the highest amount since 1,700 died in May. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Oct. 30
Kent County hits highest case count again, topping 400
With coronavirus cases rising across much of the state, the Grand Rapids region has emerged as one of the fastest growing, with Kent County recording 407 confirmed cases on Friday, its highest single-day case count.
That has pushed that county’s daily rate to 45 new cases a day per 100,000, well above the state’s rate of 28 new daily cases per 100,000. A week ago, Kent was averaging 26 daily cases per 100,000.
The hospitals in west Michigan have seen one of the steepest increase in confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, with 265, up from 76 on Oct. 1 and have raised concerns about how high infections and hospitalizations might go.
But case counts are rising elsewhere too, including in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, the most populous in the state.
The state reported 3,168 new cases Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 174,388 since March. It also reported 11 new deaths, bringing the year’s total to 7,309 and the October total to 549, the most since 1,702 were reported in May.
Another 61,000 coronavirus tests were reported, a new record, with 6.6 percent coming back positive. — Mike Wilkinson
Thursday, Oct. 29
State hits another record, with 3,675 new cases
The coronavirus is surging across wide swaths of Michigan, with the state reporting Thursday that nearly 9 percent of more than 51,000 tests came back positive, a sign the virus is spreading widely.
The state also reported a record 3,675 new confirmed coronavirus cases, though a delay in reporting means some of today’s cases would have been reported on Friday instead.
What the numbers continue to reveal is a jump in cases in west Michigan and Kent County specifically, with another 316 cases in that county, pushing its daily rate to 42 new cases per 100,000 people over the past week. That’s up from 24 new daily cases in the previous week.
Overall in Michigan, that rate is 26 cases a day per 100,000. Just two weeks ago that number was half as large — 13 cases a day per 100,000.
Michigan is experiencing the same rapid rise that states across the Midwest have seen and it prompted Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, to issue a broad new epidemic order that will limit crowd sizes at indoor events like banquets, weddings and conferences to 50 people, down from 500.
The positive test rate is now over 10 percent in 12 counties, including Macomb, Saginaw and Muskegon and a number of less populous counties in the Upper Peninsula. — Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Oct. 28
Cases climb to 3,271 with over 400 reported in Oakland County
Michigan public health officials said Wednesday there were 3,271 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 18 new deaths from COVID-19.
The spike in cases comes as the positive test rate from Michiganders was a reported 6.6 percent, a continued signal of widespread transmission. A day earlier, the state reported that the positive test rate at 6.9 percent, a threshold much higher than the 3 percent state health officials have said is safe for an open economy.
In recent weeks, cases have skyrocketed, particularly in the western and southwestern Michigan and in the Upper Peninsula. Recently, metro Detroit, a hotspot at the onset of the virus in March and April, has had a resurgence of cases.
In a news conference Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expressed concern about rising numbers just before Election Day.
"We are here because of the work that we have done and because we have worn masks and we have pushed our numbers down,” she said. “But they are very concerning right now. And so, I encourage people to be smart, keep our wits about us."
More than 400 cases reported Wednesday were in metro Detroit’s Oakland County, which President Donald Trump plans to visit Friday for a rally at the county’s airport in Waterford Township.
Statewide, hospitalizations also rose and are up since the summer, with currently more than 1,300 hospital patients being treated for COVID-19.
Since March, 167,545 Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19. More than 7,200 have died. — Monica Williams
Tuesday, Oct. 27
Virus case rise includes leap in metro Detroit; positive test rate nears 7 percent
Michigan reported 2,367 new confirmed coronavirus infections on Tuesday and 28 more deaths from COVID-19, including more than 300 new cases in Oakland County.
The cases come as the positive test rate from over 41,000 tests hit 6.9 percent, an indication of widespread transmission of the coronavirus. The positive test rate has not been higher since mid-May.
Over the past week the overall positive rate, from over 270,000 tests, has been 6 percent. The state had targeted 3 percent as the goal to safely open the economy.
Seven counties now have a positive test rate over 10 percent for the past week: Delta, Gogebic, Ontonagon and Dickinson in the Upper Peninsula and Muskegon, Calhoun and Van Buren in west and southwest Michigan. Cass County is at 9.9 percent.
The number of infections raised the seven-day average to another all-time high of 2,126 as much of the state is seeing a wave of new infections, especially the Upper Peninsula and west and southwest Michigan.
But that rise is also starting to be felt in southeast Michigan, which was hit hardest in March, April and May.
For Oakland, the 305 new cases pushed its rate of daily cases per 100,000 to 17 over the past week, up from 12; on Oct. 1 the rate was five new daily cases per 100,000. Macomb County is now at 21 cases per day per 100,000, up from 15 a week earlier and seven on Oct. 1.
Michigan is experiencing the same increases that have befallen states throughout the Midwest, though not as high as those seen in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana.
And though hospitalizations and deaths are up from September, August and July, they are far below what was seen in April and May.
Of the 28 deaths reported Tuesday, eight were from a review of earlier deaths that are now ascribed to COVID-19. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Oct. 26
Case counts high as positive test rate exceeds 6 percent
Nearly 3,900 new confirmed coronavirus cases were reported Monday as the recent rise in case counts has led to a steep rise in hospitalizations.
The cases, covering Sunday and Monday, pushed the seven-day average over 2,000, its highest level ever, as more than 300 new infections were reported in Macomb (319), Oakland (379), and Kent (469) counties.
The cases have led to a steep increase in hospitalizations, with the state reporting a nearly 20-percent increase in confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients on Monday, compared to Friday. There are now nearly 1,500 people being treated for COVID-19 in Michigan hospitals.
The increases correspond with a positive test rate of over 6 percent for the past two days, the highest sustained rates since mid-May. But back then the state was averaging under 15,000 tests a day; it has averaged over 44,000 a day for the past week.
For the past month, the highest rates were in the Upper Peninsula, and they still are, with Delta (16.1 percent) and Gogebic (11.7 percent) counties with the highest. But Calhoun (10.6), Van Buren (9.4), Muskegon (9.4) in west and southwest Michigan reporting rising rates.
The state also reported 29 deaths over the past two days, bringing the total to 7,211. — Mike Wilkinson
Hospitalizations jump nearly 20 percent over the weekend
Michigan hospitals are now treating nearly 1,500 coronavirus patients with the number of patients jumping 19 percent from Friday, with larger increases in the Grand Rapids and Bay City-Saginaw-Flint regions, according to new numbers released Monday.
There are 1,489 people hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19, including 212 in the region anchored by Kent County, representing a 33 percent increase from Friday. The region centered on Saginaw-Bay City-Flint rose 27 percent to 228 patients.
The six counties in metro Detroit saw 100 new COVID-19 patients, a 17 percent increase and the northern lower peninsula, which has largely had lower case counts, saw a 17 percent increase as well.
Hospitals across the state reported increases in both patients and those in intensive care units. As of Oct. 22, 273 COVID-19 were in ICU; on Monday those hospitals reported 320 ICU patients, a 17 percent increase in four days.
The increase comes as the state recorded its highest single-day case count on Saturday when it reported 3,338 new confirmed coronavirus cases.
Despite the higher case counts and hospitalizations, the state’s hospitals saw nearly triple the number of patients in April.
However, public health and hospital officials have sounded the alarm about the current trend of higher cases and more hospital patients that show no signs of abating with positive test rates rising and no appetite for sweeping restrictions. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Oct. 24
State reports an 'alarming' record 3,338 cases
Michigan reported a record 3,338 coronavirus cases Saturday — as well as 35 deaths — as state officials urged residents to take precautions as the second wave rips through the state.
Statewide, 1,241 adults are hospitalized as of Saturday; that’s three times the number from a month ago.
The daily total of newly confirmed cases, which included cases from testing last week, surpassed the single-day record of 2,030 set on Oct. 15.
“We are seeing an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in Michigan right now,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wrote on Twitter Saturday afternoon.
“It is vital that we wear masks, avoid large gatherings, and practice physical distancing. Your fellow Michiganders and our frontline health care workers are counting on each one of us to do the right thing.”
The state’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, also issued a statement calling the numbers “alarming.”
“If rates continue like this, we risk overwhelming our hospitals and having many more Michiganders die,” Khadun said.
The state has about 26,000 hospital beds. Among those hospitalized with suspected COVID-19 are 11 children, according to state data, while 121 adults are on ventilators and 303 are in intensive care.
Excluding Detroit, which was once a national hotspot of the virus but whose numbers have plunged, the state's population centers led the way with new cases. Kent, Macomb and Oakland counties each had 300 new daily cases, while suburban Wayne County had 238.
Calhoun County — home to Battle Creek — had 153 new cases, a rate of 46 per 100,000 residents, three times that of Macomb County and more than six times the rate of Detroit (which had 74 new cases.)
Overall, Michigan has 158,026 confirmed cases and 7,182 deaths since the virus was first confirmed in the state in mid-March.
Friday, Oct. 23
Kent County posts record day with 224 new cases
New coronavirus cases statewide held steady Friday at 1,826 but Kent County, with 224 new confirmed cases, recorded its highest single day of new infections since the pandemic began.
The West Michigan region that includes Kent County has seen a surge of cases in recent weeks, with hospitalizations rising and with local education officials warning that schools could close if cases don’t decline.
The state’s overall daily cases have held relatively steady this week but have still pushed the rate of daily cases per 100,000 people to 17, nearly double what it was in early October.
But in some parts of the state, including the Upper Peninsula and west and southwest Michigan, those rates are even higher, from 26 cases in Kent per 100,000 to 35 new daily cases in Calhoun County and 75 and 81 new daily cases in Dickinson and Iron counties in the western UP.
In fact, as cases have swelled in the Upper Peninsula, the region is accounting for far more of the state’s deaths: three of the 18 reported Friday were in the region of just over 300,000 people.
And since Oct. 1, the Upper Peninsula has had 51 COVID-19 deaths — the same number as the region of Wayne, Washtenaw and Monroe counties, which has seven times more people.
The state reported its second highest number of tests in one day, nearly 57,800, and 5.5 percent came back positive, an indication of community spread. The Upper Peninsula has the highest positive rate at 7.7 percent, followed by southwest Michigan at 7.5 percent and west Michigan at 6.1 percent. — Mike Wilkinson
Thursday, Oct. 22
October on pace to rank No. 3 in COVID-19 deaths
Another 43 COVID-19 deaths were reported Thursday, with October now on pace to record the most deaths since May.
At the current rate, there will be more than 550 deaths in October, well above the previous four months and only exceeded by May, when 1,702 COVID-19 deaths were recorded, and April, when 3,533 were.
Twelve of the deaths were in the past 24 hours with 31 previous deaths now are ascribed to COVID-19.
The state reported another 1,873 new confirmed coronavirus cases statewide, with cases increasing in Kalamazoo (119) and Calhoun (98) counties.
Eric Pessell, health officer for the Calhoun County Public Health Department, said contract tracing showed that cases were coming from a number of settings: work, health-care facilities, long-term care facilities and individual households.
He said a third of people did not know where they could have caught the virus, an indication of community spread.
In an email to Bridge Michigan, he offered a plea: “Wear a mask, wear a mask, wear a mask…Stop going to work or play while symptomatic, I don’t care how ‘mild’ the symptoms or how much it resembles your allergies,” he wrote.
Testing results showed just under 5 percent of more than 45,500 tests came back positive. That’s higher than state health officials want but lower than the 6 percent it had risen to earlier this week.
Hospitalizations did not rise in the state, staying at roughly 1,200 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients.
But with the rising number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations over the past few weeks, medical leaders in Michigan issued a call Thursday urging residents to follow safe practices designed to keep the coronavirus in check.
“We ask that everyone do the public version of these precautions: wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet apart, avoid crowds, and wash your hands frequently. We do this to keep our patients, visitors and healthcare workers safe,” wrote a group of doctors who represent top positions at 110 of the state’s 137 hospitals.
Health care officials have said the hospitals currently have capacity to treat coronavirus patients. But in their letter, the doctors warned that an increase of cases could jeopardize care.
“If Michigan doesn’t change its approach to this disease, we could have crowded hospital emergency departments and approach exceeding the capacity of our hospitals as we did in southeast Michigan this past spring,” the doctors wrote. — Mike Wilkinson
Nearly 1,600 new coronavirus cases
The state reported 33 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, the highest number since June 6 as hospitalizations rose to over 1,200 patients statewide.
Calhoun County in southwest Michigan, which has seen a surge of new cases in the last month, reported the most new deaths, five, which is a 10 percent increase in deaths there in one day, bringing the total to 57.
Dickinson County in the Upper Peninsula recorded three more deaths, raising its total to 12.
The increase in deaths are a result of rising serious illness from the coronavirus and hospitals across the state are seeing more COVID-19 patients, with the Upper Peninsula hit particularly hard: Of the 57 adult intensive care beds in the region, 18 have COVID-19 patients in them.
Other regions, which have seen COVID-19 patients increase, have far more capacity in terms of beds and ICU beds. All told, hospitals are treating 1,221 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, up from 693 on Oct. 1.
On April 15, there were over 3,900 COVID-19 hospital patients, with nearly 3,300 in the six counties of metro Detroit. There are now 541 in those hospitals; the cases are far more spread out across the state.
As hospitalizations have risen, deaths have as well and the 33 reported Wednesday is part of daily rise in COVID-19 deaths. In September the state saw, on average, 9 COVID-19 deaths a day; it’s risen to nearly 16 in October. But in April, it was over 100 a day.
The state reported 1,597 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, pushing the total since March to 150,989. There are another 16,883 probable cases and another 332 probable COVID-19 deaths.
Elevated positive test rates are being recorded across the state, with the Upper Peninsula and southwest Michigan recording positive test rates approaching 7 percent in the past week.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s team had targeted 3 percent as the level it wanted to stay below and only the northern Lower Peninsula is currently below that level.
When an area goes above 5 percent, health officials say the virus is spreading through a community and it becomes harder to control with the tools of testing and isolation. — Mike Wilkinson
State lifts ban on indoor visitation at some nursing homes, facilities
With the temperatures falling, nursing homes and other residential care facilities may resume limited indoor visitation, according to a new order by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The order also continues to limit communal dining and group activities, reflecting federal guidance, as well as outdoor visitation at facilities that can provide at least six feet between persons and adequate protection from the weather.
The new indoor visitation rules are linked to changing risk levels found on the MI Safe Start map. Indoor visitation is allowed in areas where the current risk level is A through D if facilities have had no new cases within the previous 14 days. Indoor visitation remains banned in counties at risk level E, which indicates growing risk or in counties where a local health department has determined that indoor visitation would be unsafe, according to the MDHHS.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MIchigan’s chief medical executive, called the updated rules a “delicate balance of trying to prevent the further spread of the virus while still allowing for family members and friends” visiting loved ones. — Robin Erb
Health department offers tips for holiday celebration
Both documents draw heavily from guidance by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and together, they address traveling, attending and hosting parties, and preparing meals.
They urge virtual celebrations or small gatherings with those who live nearby. Among the tips for those indoor gatherings: Increase ventilation for indoor gatherings by opening windows and doors, and provide extra masks and hand sanitizer to guests.
The Emergency Epidemic Order issued Oct. 9 remains in place, limiting residential gatherings to 10 people or less. -- Robin Erb
Whitmer urges unemployment extension
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday urged the GOP-led Legislature to pass a requirement that masks be worn inside the Michigan state Capitol and to codify temporary legislation that expands unemployment insurance benefits from 20 to 26 weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus cases are spiking across the state. “Given the recent rise in numbers, I urge the Legislature to make this change permanent,” Whitmer said. “it’s time to work together on a long-term solution for working families.”
The legislation, signed into law yesterday, codified executive orders the governor had put in place before they were struck down by the state Supreme Court in early October. But it only extends expanded unemployment eligibility through the end of the year.
Without mentioning him by name, Whitmer pushed back on Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey’s comments that “an element of herd immunity” is necessary to help the virus run its course in Michigan. Shirkey has since said the vulnerable should be protected but that “herd immunity” should be part of a larger policy approach.
“Let me be clear. That philosophy is inhumane. Health experts have said if we embrace herd immunity, 30,000 more Michiganders would die from this virus,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer also joined Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist in calling for the state Legislature to require members wear masks while inside the Capitol building and urge their supporters to wear a mask while in public.— Riley Beggin
Health officials warn of outbreaks in religious settings
Coronavirus outbreaks in religious settings are on the rise, said Michigan Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun Wednesday.
Of the 393 ongoing outbreaks across the state that health officials are investigating, 18 of them are in religious settings. That’s a significant increase from September, Khaldun said.
It’s “critical” that people have social supports, “but we have to remember that this virus is very active and it’s always looking to infect people, no matter the reason for the gathering,” she said.
She encouraged social distancing and wearing masks while inside places of worship.
Coronavirus cases have spiked in the past few weeks as colder temperatures are pushing more people indoors. As of Wednesday, the state reported 1,600 new coronavirus cases and 33 new deaths.
“Just because something is permitted, it does not mean that it’s a good idea to do it,” Khaldun said. Whenever possible, people should choose takeout over in-person dining or renting a movie instead of going to see one in theaters. — Riley Beggin
Tuesday, Oct. 20
Positive test rate falls but hospitalizations rise
Michigan reported another 1,586 confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday, and 22 more deaths as the pandemic pushes into heightened case counts across much of the state.
The higher case counts are hitting Oakland, suburban Wayne, Kent and Macomb counties as well as less populous areas, including Marquette and Dickinson counties in the Upper Peninsula.
Washtenaw County saw 79 new cases Tuesday, bringing its daily cases per 100,000 to 19 for the past week, above the state average of 16 and nearly double its rate in the previous week.
The University of Michigan, citing a spike in cases, has ordered students to stay home and avoid unnecessary trips.
The new infections are continuing to send more people to the hospital, with nearly 1,200 now hospitalized for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. A week ago, 941 were hospitalized. In April, as many as 4,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized.
The positive test rate reported Tuesday was 4.8 percent of nearly 50,700 tests, down from the 6.1 percent reported Monday.
The 22 deaths included an earlier death now ascribed to COVID-19. The 21 new deaths marked the highest number since June 18, when 26 were reported. In April, the state averaged over 100 a day. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Oct. 19
Positive test rate continues to rise with increase in cases
Nearly 6 percent of all coronavirus tests reported Monday came back positive, triggering another 2,909 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The results cover Sunday and Monday, meaning an average of 1,454 new cases each day. It pushed the seven-day average to 1,620, nearly equal to the highest average ever. However, far fewer people were tested in April when there were likely thousands more coronavirus cases than were detected.
The positive test rate, which had been at roughly 3 percent for over three months, has slowly inched up, indicating wider spread of coronavirus and increased numbers of cases are being reported across much of the state, from west and southwest Michigan to the Upper Peninsula and, increasingly in the most populous part of the state, metro Detroit.
Statewide the average daily cases per 100,000 has hit 16, a substantial increase from the 10 daily cases just 10 days ago. It mirrors, but does not match, the increases seen throughout much of the Midwest.
Many of the cases in Marquette County are related to an outbreak at the Marquette Prison, where over 200 inmates and 100 staff have tested positive.
State public health officials also reported 25 new outbreaks at long-term care facilities like nursing homes, among 110 new confirmed outbreaks statewide. Those include 25 at education facilities, 11 at social gatherings and 10 in office settings.
That is in addition to 283 ongoing outbreaks around the state, including 68 at long-term care facilities and 59 at schools.
Nursing homes became hotspots for coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths in March, April and May and at 2,217 resident deaths so far, they account for nearly one-third of all COVID-19 deaths since March. — Mike Wilkinson
State expands free COVID testing
Michiganders now have access to 77 more free testing sites, the result of new partnerships between the state, Walgreens, and the state’s network of low-cost and free health clinics.
Sites for free testing throughout the state can be found on the state’s testing locator, and they bring state-supported testing to nearly 100 sites throughout Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Appointments for Walgreens' 36 drive-thru testing locations are made online. Pharmacy staff instruct customers to administer the COVID-19 test.
In the second partnership, the agreement reassures residents that existing testing through Michigan Primary Care Association providers will remain free. MPCA is an association of low-cost and no-cost health centers throughout the state.
While federal law requires insurers cover medically necessary COVID-19 tests without out-of-pocket costs, insurers may not consider some tests medically necessary — when a consumer is asymptomatic, for example. Test sites may still collect patient insurance information and attempt to bill insurance first, but costs not covered by insurance will be covered by state funding.
The state’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, encouraged “anyone who is sick or has been close to anyone who has been sick” to get a test. — Robin Erb
Saturday, Oct. 17
Michigan positive tests hit 5 percent; overall COVID tests pass 7,000
For the first time since late May, Michigan public health officials reported Saturday that 5 percent of nearly 42,600 tests for COVID-19 came back positive, a sign of growing spread of the coronavirus. The rate of positive tests in Michigan was under 3 percent earlier this fall.
There were 1,791 newly confirmed infections and 23 deaths Saturday, which pushed the state’s overall death total past 7,000 to 7,010. Fifteen of the deaths were earlier deaths now ascribed to COVID-19 following a review of health records.
Many of the new infections, 253, were reported in Marquette County, where Michigan Department of Corrections officials have been battling cases among staff at the prison there.
Higher numbers of cases are being reported in all parts of the state, from Kent and Ottawa counties in West Michigan to Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties in metro Detroit. Jackson, Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties are seeing increases as well.
For the state, the seven-day daily average has risen to 1,463, the highest since mid-April. However, in April it was far harder to get tested, with fewer than 5,000 daily tests, of which 25 to 30 percent were coming back positive and thousands of cases went unconfirmed at the time.
The state does not report new hospitalizations on weekends. But on Friday, the number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in hospitals was 1,072, double the number reported Sept. 25. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday Oct. 16
Cases top 2,000 for second day Friday as testing hits all-time high
Public health officials reported 2,015 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Friday as new infections continued to rise in almost all parts of the state, including metro Detroit where infection rates have lagged. It marked the second straight day with more than 2,000 cases.
The new infections include 211 in Macomb County, the most there in weeks, pushing its rate to 14 new cases a day for every 100,000 people, up from nine daily cases the week before.
With the 2,015 cases, the state’s daily case rate has risen to 14 cases per 100,000.
Increases have been reported in most parts of the state, from Calhoun County (36 cases per 100,000, up from 22) in southwest Michigan to Kent County (23 cases per day per 100,000, up from 15) to Marquette County in the Upper Peninsula, which now has a rate of 42 new daily cases per 100,000, up from 12.
The surge comes as testing hit an all-time high, with just over 50,000 tests reported, of which 4.1 percent were positive.
Hospitalizations rose again to 1,072, up from 1,029 on Thursday and the number of emergency room visits for coronavirus symptoms was nearly 1,200, up over 36 percent in a week. Visits to metro Detroit emergency rooms were up 46 percent to over 700 in the past day.
The state also reported 14 new COVID-19 deaths Friday, for an overall total of 6,987 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
Though case counts in Michigan are approaching April levels, deaths are not. Over the past 14 days, the state has averaged just over 10 deaths a day. In April, the last time there were similar numbers of new dailies infections, the state averaged 122 deaths a day over two weeks.
Neighboring states continue to see similar surges. Wisconsin, which has over three million fewer people than Michigan, had more than 3,800 cases Friday and has averaged over 3,000 cases a day for the past week. Ohio reported its third straight day over 2,000 Friday and Indiana is seeing its highest case counts ever as well. – Mike Wilkinson
Flu shots available at COVID test sites
Children 3 and older who are covered by Michigan’s Medicaid may get flu shots at local pharmacies and COVID testing sites now, the result of policy changes to boost vaccine rates as the state faces a refueled COVID-19 pandemic coinciding with flu season.
Michigan health officials say that immunizing an additional 1 million Michiganders is crucial to fighting what some have dubbed the “twindemic” of flu season and COVID. That would mean vaccinating about 4.2 million Michiganders, or about 40 percent of the population.
Medicaid previously covered only adult vaccines at pharmacies, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Providers who serve Medicaid patients now also will receive increased reimbursement through December to cover costs of administering vaccines. Providers previously have been reimbursed $7 for administrative costs for each injectable vaccine and $3 in administrative costs for an oral or nasal vaccine. Those reimbursements now will increase to $13.76 and $12.38, respectively.
Thursday, Oct. 15
Michigan reports most cases ever in a day
Confirmed coronavirus cases surged to over 2,000 on Thursday, the single highest number of cases on any day since the pandemic began as infections continue to climb across broad portions of the state.
The highest previous number of cases occurred on April 3 when 1,953 infections were reported.
Deaths rose, also, to 32 for the day, including 21 earlier deaths now considered COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 6,973.
Michigan is now seeing record case levels like its neighbors. Ohio set a record Thursday and Indiana and Wisconsin have been seeing record infections as well in the past week.
The percent of positive tests rose again too, hitting 4.8 percent of more than 42,000 tests. The state’s goal had been 3 percent, where it was for much of the past four months. It has slowly risen in the last week as infections have increased. — Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Oct. 14
State reports 1,359 new cases as uptick continues
State health officials reported 1,359 new confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday, as the current rise in cases shows no sign of abating.
The elevated case levels mark the sixth day in the last eight in which cases were above 1,000. It was just over 900 on the other two days.
The state reported another 13 deaths, putting the monthly total at 183 and on pace for more than 400, the highest month since there were 457 in June.
There had been 264 in July, 286 in August and 282 in September.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said Tuesday there was a likelihood the increase is part of a second wave. Michigan was one of the hardest hit states from March through May.
Kent County saw the most new cases (185), well above its seven-day average of 134 and pushing its daily rate to 20 new cases, on average, for every 100,000 people over the past week, up from 14 the week before. The state rate is 11 cases a day per 100,000.
A number of counties in west and southwest Michigan are experiencing increases, including Calhoun, Berrien, Ionia and Ottawa counties. But increases are occurring across the state, from metro Detroit (Washtenaw and Macomb) to the Upper Peninsula (Marquette and Alger) and the Flint and Saginaw region.
Of the 29,500 tests reported Wednesday, 4.5 percent came back positive, the fifth day in a row the rate was above 4 percent. It had averaged about 3 percent since June 1, staying at the level Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and others had targeted as an indicator of the virus’ control. — Mike Wilkinson
Michigan unemployment drops slightly, so does its labor force
Michigan’s job growth slowed in September while its workforce decreased, suppressing satisfaction with improvements in the unemployment rate.
The state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate declined by two-tenths of a percentage point in September to 8.5 percent. At the same time, the state workforce decreased by 23,000.
“Michigan’s labor market indicators were mixed in September,” said Wayne Rourke, acting director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, in a news release.
“The recovery of employment and payroll jobs has slowed in recent months, and the September decline in the unemployment rate was primarily due to fewer people in the labor force.”
Nationally, the U.S. jobless rate fell by half a percentage point between August and September to 7.9 percent.
However, that number “would be about 3 percentage points higher if labor force participation remained at February 2020 levels,” said Vice Chairman Richard Clarida of the Federal Reserve during a speech on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
So far in 2020, Michigan’s unemployment jumped 4.6 percentage points, compared to 4.4 percentage points for the nation as a whole.
For the third quarter, Michigan’s jobless rate was 8.6 percent, compared to the second quarter rate of 20 percent. “This reflected people recalled to jobs after the substantial pandemic-related layoffs in April,” according to the state. — Paula Gardner
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga said Wednesday he tested positive for COVID-19 prior to a planned appearance in Grand Rapids with Vice President Mike Pence.
The Zeeland Republican announced results from what he called a rapid test while Pence spoke in west Michigan. Huizenga said he was tested offsite, per event protocol, and is awaiting results of a separate diagnostic test that is typically more accurate.
In the meantime, “I am self isolating until I have confirmed results,” the congressman wrote on Twitter.
Earlier today, I was expected to appear with the Vice President. While taking part in offsite testing protocols, I took a rapid test that came back positive for COVID-19. I am awaiting the results of a PCR test and I am self isolating until I have confirmed results.— Rep. Bill Huizenga (@RepHuizenga) October 14, 2020
Pence spoke at an auto supply company near Grand Rapids, where he defended GOP President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic and touted the country’s pre-coronavirus economy, among other things.
Trump, who tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago, is back “out on the campaign trail” and doing well, Pence said. The president, who is trailing Democrat Joe Biden in recent Michigan polls, is scheduled to speak at a Muskegon rally on Saturday.
“We are opening up America, and we are opening up American schools,” Pence said.
Watch his full speech below via WOOD-TV 8. — Jonathan Oosting
Tuesday, Oct. 13
Deaths at highest level since June; hospitalizations top 1,000
Michigan hospitals treated the most COVID-19 patients since late May, state health officials reported Monday. There were 30 new confirmed coronavirus deaths.
The deaths include 20 that occurred in the past day and 10 earlier ones now ascribed to COVID-19. The death figures were the highest since June.
The rising death toll comes as 1,011 patients were treated in Michigan hospitals for confirmed or suspected COVID-19, the most since May 28. By comparison, the state had as many as 4,000 COVID-19 patients in April.
The state reported 1,237 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, pushing the seven-day average to over 1,100. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Oct. 11
Positive test rate remains above 4 percent
Michigan health officials reported 1,809 new confirmed coronavirus cases for Sunday and Monday, keeping the daily average over 1,000.
And for the past three days of testing, the positive test rate exceeded 4 percent, the first time since late May it has been above 4 percent for three consecutive days.
Case counts remain elevated in the western Upper Peninsula but also in western and southwestern Michigan, with Kent, Barry, Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties seeing higher counts and the rate of daily cases per 100,000 in population.
Hospitalizations rose again, with 941 patients of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 now being treated in hospitals across the state. That’s a slight increase since 927 were reported last Thursday.
Seven new deaths were reported as well, bringing the total to 6,898 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.— Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Oct. 10
Case count at highest since early April
Michigan reported 1,522 new coronavirus infections Saturday, the highest number since April 7, pushing the seven-day average over 1,000 -- also for the first time since April.
A surge of new cases in Kent County (163), Oakland (153), suburban Wayne (143) and Macomb (127) propelled the increase.
But now the virus is far more spread out across the state than it was in early spring, with increases echoing what’s happening in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana, all of which have seen their highest cases counts on Friday.
On April 16, when there were 1,204 Michigan cases, metro Detroit (Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Detroit) accounted for over 71 percent; only four other counties had even 20 cases.
But Saturday, metro Detroit accounted for less than a third of newly confirmed cases, and 11 other counties scattered across the state had between 20 and 89 new cases: Genesee (89), Kalamazoo (84), Ottawa (49), Calhoun (49), Berrien (44), Washtenaw (43), Jackson (39), Ingham (36), Marquette (29), Dickinson (28) and Livingston (20).
The state also reported a “net” 15 additional deaths Saturday, but that’s the product of some additions and subtractions from earlier counts. It is not clear how many new deaths are reflected in Saturday’s numbers. Overall, there have been 6,891 confirmed COVID-19 deaths since March.
In another troubling sign: The state’s positive test rate rose Saturday to 4.1 percent, the first time it’s been above 4 percent since Sept. 10. The state has aimed to keep the rate of positive tests below 3 percent.
Hospitalizations, last updated Thursday, show more than 900 people in Michigan hospitals for COVID-19. In April, there were more than 3,600 coronavirus patients and far more people were dying — the state averaged 100 deaths a day for two weeks in mid-April. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Oct. 9
State hits highest positive test rate in a month as cases surpass 1,000
Michigan reported the highest number of tests ever in one day on Friday, more than 43,500, as the positive test rate also hit a high of 3.8 percent.
It had risen to 4.4 percent on Sept. 10 before falling below 4 percent, where it's remained since.
The latest new case count, 1,095 for the day, indicated a slight reprieve for several Upper Peninsula counties, but saw Kent County, with 126 cases, lead the state.
That west Michigan’s average new daily cases per 100,000 people rose to 15 over the past seven days, up from 12 new cases a day the previous week.
The state rate is 10 new cases a day for every 100,000.
Seven additional COVID-19 deaths were reported, bringing the total to 6,876. There have been another 324 probable COVID-19 deaths in Michigan.
Thursday, Oct. 8
New infections of the coronavirus rose to 1,197 Thursday as cases continued to increase and spread out across the state.
The new cases helped push the daily average up in 39 of the state’s 83 counties, including several of the most populous: Wayne, Oakland, Kent and Genesee. The cases pushed the seven-day average to 923, the highest it has been since April 24.
Hospitalizations rose again as well, with 927 people being treated for COVID-19 in Michigan hospitals, up 50 from Wednesday and over 400 since Sept. 25.
The state also reported two new COVID-19 deaths and another 20 from previous deaths that are now blamed on the virus.
The increase in cases occurs as the positive test rate fell, to 3.1 percent over more than 42,000 tests, the most the state has ever reported in a single day. — Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Oct. 7
Daily virus infections exceed 1,000
Michigan health authorities reported 1,016 new infections of the coronavirus on Wednesday, passing 130,000 confirmed cases since the pandemic started.
Along with 14,052 probable cases there have now been nearly 145,000 cases since the start of the pandemic.
The state also reported nine additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total since March to 6,847.
The most cases were in Macomb (87), suburban Wayne (85) and Kent (83) counties. But elevated case numbers, when adjusting for population, were again seen in the Upper Peninsula as well as in Calhoun, Berrien, Jackson and Kalamazoo counties in south and southwest Michigan. — Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Oct. 6
Case counts push seven-day average to nearly 900
Another 903 confirmed cases of the coronavirus were reported Tuesday, along with 22 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
Of the deaths, 15 were new and seven were earlier deaths now believed caused by COVID-19.
The number of in-patients treated in Michigan hospitals for COVID-19 rose 25 to 825, the highest amount since June 4.
The highest number of cases were reported in suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, with 121 new cases. But the county’s rate of cases remained at five new daily cases per 100,000, below the statewide average of about nine new daily cases per 100,000.
A higher case rate was recorded in Dickinson County, in the western Upper Peninsula, along the Wisconsin border, which had 23 new cases Tuesday and a rate of 43 cases per day per 100,000, quadruple the statewide rate.
Also rising was the rate in Calhoun County, where an outbreak at Albion College caused the school to cancel all non-academic athletic and co-curricular in-person activities this week. Case rates in the county rose to 20 per day per 100,000, double the state rate.
The state reported that 3.4 percent of more than 25,000 tests came back positive. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Oct. 5
School outbreaks jump; hospitalizations, ER cases rise
There were new or ongoing coronavirus outbreaks in 58 K-12 schools and 25 colleges in Michigan as of Oct. 1, totaling 4,187 cases, according to state data released Monday.
Schools with outbreaks increased from 48 the week prior; while college outbreaks increased from 23 over that same time.
The rate of growth at schools with coronavirus outbreaks, though, is slowing, rising 4 percent to 4,187 cases from 4,025. The week before, cases rose 72 percent.
The state defines an outbreak as two or more confirmed cases connected to a similar place and time, outside a household.
Most of the reported K-12 outbreaks involved fewer than 10 students or staff members.
The exceptions: 11 cases at Holy Redeemer Grade School in Detroit, and 31 at Luce Road Elementary in Alma.
Among Michigan colleges, the most cases connected to new or ongoing outbreaks is 1,420 at Michigan State University; 879 at Grand Valley State University; 535 at the University of Michigan; 323 at Central Michigan University; and 251 at Adrian College. — Ron French
Hospitalizations jump 100 since Friday
Hospitalizations from the coronavirus are rising along with new cases, as Michigan reported 800 in-patients Monday, up over 100 from Friday and up nearly 300 since Sept. 25.
The state reported 1,407 new infections on Monday, from both Sunday and Monday, for an average of 704. That pushed the seven-day average to 884 new cases, the highest since April 29.
That’s led to increased trips to the emergency rooms of state hospitals, with nearly 750 reported Monday, up from 674 on Friday.
Kent County reported the most cases Monday, 181, pushing the seven-day average to 95 and the county’s rate per 100,000 to 15 new daily cases; the state average is nine new daily cases per 100,000. But the highest rates remain in the western Upper Peninsula where elevated cases are still being reported in Iron, Delta, Houghton, Dickinson and Menominee counties. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Oct. 3
Michigan reports 1,158 cases
Michigan coronavirus cases hit 1,158 Saturday, keeping the seven-day average above 700 daily cases for the last 10 days.
The current seven-day average is 870 daily cases; the state hadn’t had 10 consecutive days of 700 or higher since late April and into early May, and the rate hadn’t been higher than 870 since April 19.
Kent County, with 130 new cases, led the state, pushing its seven-day average to 88 daily cases and its rate per 100,000 to 13 new daily cases, up from 10 the previous week. The state is now averaging 9 new daily cases for every 100,000 people.
Higher counts continued to hit sparsely populated parts of the Upper Peninsula, with Delta County reporting 39 caes; its rate is now 84 daily cases per 100,000. Nearby Iron County, which reported 21 cases Saturday, and had its case rate jump to 108 per day per 100,000.
Overall, 2.9 percent of the 39,000 tests statewide were positive, in line with the state’s goals.
The state does not release hospitalization data on weekends; however, the number of people being treated in Michigan hospitals for COVID-19 has risen from 505 on Sept. 25 to 707 on Friday.
The state also reported two additional COVID-19 deaths, and another 11 prior deaths that are now attributed to COVID-19, pushing the overall total to 6,801. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Oct. 2
780 more cases in Michigan
Michigan health authorities reported 780 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Friday, with hospitalizations rising for the fifth day in a row, hitting 707 patients, the highest number since July 30.
The state also reported seven additional COVID-19 deaths.
Kent County, with 88 new cases, had the most confirmed cases in the state and has seen its average daily count rise in the past week and its daily new cases per 100,000, now at 12 in the past week, rise from nine the previous week.
Statewide the state is averaging about seven new daily cases for every 100,000 people.
Testing results showed that 3.1 percent of more than 39,700 tests came back positive.
Higher case counts continued to be reported in Delta, Houghton and Dickinson counties in the western portion of the Upper Peninsula.— Mike Wilkinson
Thursday, Oct. 1
Hospitalizations continue to rise Thursday
The number of Michigan residents hospitalized for the coronavirus continued to rise Thursday and the total is up nearly 200 since last Friday.
All told, the state’s hospitals are treating 693 people for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, up from 506 on Sept. 25.
In April, as many as 4,000 people were hospitalized at one time for COVID-19.
A number of those patients are in smaller hospitals in the western Upper Peninsula, which has been hard hit in recent weeks. At three facilities and health care systems in the region, there are now 29 coronavirus patients, up from seven late last week.
Those numbers do not include Michigan residents who seek treatment at nearby Wisconsin facilities.
Overall the state reported 891 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 19 deaths, 11 of which were prior deaths now believed caused by COVID-19.
The highest number of new cases were reported in Macomb, suburban Wayne, Kent and Oakland counties but a number of less populous counties, including those in the western Upper Peninsula, also saw higher case counts. — Mike Wilkinson
Michigan unemployment claims tick up from previous week
Michigan had 18,040 new unemployment claims during the week ended Sept. 26, up from 17,402 new claims the week before, according to statistics released Thursday.
All told, 401,381 state residents were receiving unemployment benefits in mid-September, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Another 14,655 Michigan residents filed last week under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. A total of 779,443 people were receiving ongoing benefits under that program, which allows part-time, gig and other workers with earnings loss to receive some benefits.
Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in August was 8.7 percent, the same as a month earlier. That is based on a labor force of 4.9 million.
Meanwhile, hospitality workers in Michigan who lost jobs during the pandemic have until 5 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 1) to apply for up to $500 in a one-time assistance payment.
The funds come from a $2.5 million grant to the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, which says 300,000 workers — about half employed in the industry — were affected by COVID-19 layoffs, work reductions and permanent closings.
Applicants must prove with a pay stub that they were employed in the industry as of March 10. The grant is funded through the Michigan Department of Treasury, which is using federal CARES Act money received by the state. — Paula Gardner
Wednesday, Sept. 30
Cases surpass 1,000 on rise in southwest Michigan, U.P.
A number of Michigan counties are seeing spikes in coronavirus infections, including Kent, Macomb, Genesee and Calhoun counties, as well as continued high case counts in the western Upper Peninsula.
Delta County, with just under 36,000 residents, recorded 64 new cases, the fifth most in the state, pushing its seven-day average to 31 cases, up from 11. Adjusted for population, it is now averaging 86 cases per day per 100,000 residents, 10 times higher than the state rate.
Nearly 10 percent of tests in Delta County have come back positive in the past week, triple the state rate. Nearby Iron County has a similarly high positive rate, up from 5 percent the week before.
In terms of daily case rates, Kent County saw its rate per 100,000 rise to 12 daily cases, up from 9, Genesee rose to 11 from six and Calhoun County rose to 22 daily cases per 100,000, up from eight the previous week.
Hospitalizations, though well below the 4.000 seen at the height of the pandemic, rose again to 676, up nearly 175 in less than a week.
The state also reported 11 additional COVID-19 deaths. — Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Sept. 29
Whitmer extends state of emergency to Oct. 27
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday extended a state of emergency through Oct. 27, citing ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19.
While Whitmer has gradually allowed most businesses to reopen since broad shutdown orders in March, she’s continued to issue executive orders mandating mask use, workplace safety protocols and rules for facilities such as nursing homes.
The governor’s decision to extend the state of emergency, which was expected, gives her authority to continue amending and issuing pandemic orders.
“This emergency will end, and it is a matter of months,” Whitmer said in a statement.
“But we are not out of the woods yet. Right now, the federal government and all 50 states have been under some form of state of emergency. We must continue doing our part to fight this virus on behalf of our families, frontline workers, and our small businesses.”
The Republican-led Legislature sued Whitmer in early May, arguing she did not have the authority to continue the state of emergency after lawmakers declined to extend it legislatively beyond April 30.
Courts have so far sided with Whitmer, but the Michigan Supreme Court is now reviewing the dispute. Separately, a petition drive backed by GOP leaders seeks to repeal the 1945 law Whitmer has relied on to extend the state of emergency unilaterally, without the Republican-led Legislature’s input. — Jonathan Oosting
Most Michigan deaths since late June
Michigan reported 16 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, the most since late June as the seven-day average of new cases also hit its highest mark since early May.
The news is a reminder the pandemic is not over, despite a loosening of restrictions on activity in the state by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer late last week.
Including four deaths now attributed to COVID-19, the state reported 20 total deaths on Tuesday, in addition to 898 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, pushing the seven-day average to 818, the highest since 821 on May 4.
Even though the death count is the highest since June 27, it’s still a fraction of the peak. In April, the state averaged over 100 deaths a day; there have been 271 in all of September.
But case counts have risen recently, particularly among college students and in parts of the Upper Peninsula, where COVID-19 hospitalizations hit 34 on Tuesday, 10 more than Monday and not counting Michigan residents who seek treatment in Wisconsin hospitals.
Other counties that have had an uptick in cases include Calhoun County where the rate per 100,000 residents has hit 19 new daily cases over the past week, up from 7 daily cases per 100,000 the prior week. Washtenaw County, too, saw its rate jump from 6 daily cases per 100,000 to 12.
Results from nearly 24,000 tests showed 3.6 percent were positive, a slight increase from recent days. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Sept. 28
COVID cases rise
COVID-19 hospitalizations rose across much of Michigan over the past week, with the number nearly quintupling in the Upper Peninsula and increasing by over 60 percent in eastern Michigan.
A week ago there were five reported COVID-19 in-patients in Upper Peninsula hospitals and on Monday there were 24. In the state’s region that includes the Thumb and up the Lake Huron coast, the number jumped from 76 to 125 in-patients being treated for confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
There are increases in metro Detroit, central Michigan and smaller increases in west and southwest Michigan.
Overall, it was a jump of nearly 100 patients in a week and the highest COVID-19 hospital census since Sept. 1. However, there are still thousands of available beds across the state; at the height of the pandemic there were over 4,000 inpatients being treated for COVID-19.
The state also reported an average of 654 confirmed coronavirus cases for both Sunday and Monday, below recent case counts of more than 900 daily cases.
The state reported 1,308 new infections covering both Sunday and Monday, or 654 a day. The state reported eight additional COVID-19 deaths.
Macomb (148), Kent (133) and Oakland (106) counties reported the most new cases but Washtenaw County, with fewer people, reported 100 new cases and saw its case rate double to 10 new daily cases for every 100,000 people, up from 5 the prior week. In Michigan it’s about 7 new cases for every 100,000 people.
Higher case counts continue to plague parts of the western Upper Peninsula, especially Delta County, where Escanaba is.
The 50 cases reported there Monday pushed the county’s rate to 70 new cases a day for every 100,000 over the past seven days, up from 20 cases a day per 100,000. Houghton County, where the local schools ordered a temporary shutdown of face-to-face schooling, has seen its daily-case rate hit 55 cases per 100,000, up from 39.
Over the weekend, testing showed about 3.3 percent of more than 50,000 tests came back positive. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Sept. 26
Three straight days of 900 infections, the first time since April
For the first time since late April, Michigan public health officials reported more than 900 new coronavirus infections for three straight days, just a day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer relaxed some rules and strengthened others.
The state reported 901 confirmed cases Saturday, bringing the total to 121,427 confirmed cases total. There are another 12,946 probable cases.
But the higher case counts have not, at least in the last few weeks, triggered higher rates of hospitalizations and the state’s robust testing — averaging over 39,000 tests a day, at well more than double the one-time goal of 150 tests for every 100,000 residents a day — is returning positive tests less than 3 percent of the time, a good sign. The positive percentage rate was listed as 2.9 percent Saturday.
On Friday, Whitmer announced that movie theaters, concert venues, bowling alleys and other retailers could open soon, citing the positive news from the state’s case, hospitalization and testing data. At the same time, she toughened school regulations by requiring all elementary school students wear masks.
One of the reasons for the lower numbers of hospitalized patients is the age of many who are getting infected: Since Sept. 1, over half of all new infections are under 30; before Sept. 1, they comprised just over a quarter of all cases. Younger people have proven more resilient to the disease, though public health authorities warn that they are not without risk, not least by possibly passing on the virus to more vulnerable populations.
Oakland, Kent, suburban Wayne and Macomb counties had the most new cases reported Saturday, but there were also higher case counts reported again in the western Upper Peninsula counties of Houghton, Delta and Iron, which have fewer people and also smaller, more spread out health care facilities.
— Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Sept. 25
Case count tops 900 for second straight day; hospitalizations fall
Michigan recorded another 929 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, the second straight day it exceeded 900.
But the increase occurred as overall hospitalizations fell to 506 in-patients, one of the lowest levels reported by the state during the pandemic.
The case count pushed the total to 120,526 confirmed cases and the eight new deaths raised the total to 6,708.
Kent (79), suburban Wayne (77) and Oakland (71) counties had the most cases but they are among the most populous.
Higher case counts continue to plague the western Upper Peninsula counties of Delta (34 cases), Houghton (26) and Iron (20) — that’s 80 cases for counties with a population of just over 83,000. By comparison, Kent County has more than 650,000 residents and Oakland County has more than 1.2 million.
Just under 3 percent (2.8 percent) of more than 39,500 tests came back positive, the most tests reported in a day since Aug. 25. The state has said it wants to keep the positive rate at or below 3 percent.
— Mike Wilkinson
Thursday, Sept. 24
Health officials warn of COVID exposure at Mackinac Island
Visitors to Mackinac Island this month are being asked to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms after a person who tested positive reported being on the island.
The following have been listed as exposure sites and times:
- Sept. 16: Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry
- 3 p.m. trip - Mackinac Island to Mackinaw City, top deck
- 5:30 p.m. trip - Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island, lower level cabin
- Sept. 17 - Kilwin’s (from 3 to 6:30 p.m.)
- Sept. 18 - Kilwin’s (from 3 to 7:30 pm)
- Sept. 20 - Broken Spoke or Horn’s (from 9 to 10 p.m.)
- Sept. 21 - Kilwin’s (from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.)
- Sept. 22 - The Gate House restaurant (7:30 to 8 p.m.)
The Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft Health Department asks anyone who has been in the following “exposure sites” and develops COVID-19 syptoms within 14 days to immediately contact their provider or local health department for instructions or to call the LMAS health department at 906-643-1100.
Daily case count nears 1,000; total deaths at 6,700
Michigan nearly topped 1,000 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus with the state reporting 982 cases, tied for the second most in September.
The state also reported eight deaths, pushing the total confirmed COVID-19 deaths to 6,700. COVID-19 will likely be the third highest cause of death in Michigan in 2020, behind heart disease and cancer.
Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 140 new cases, the most in the state, with Oakland (94) and Macomb (91), the second and third highest. They are the most populous in the state.
Despite the rising number of cases, the percent of virus tests that were positive stood at 3 percent out of more than 37,300 tests. — Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Sept. 23
Upper Peninsula continues to see rise in cases
Four counties in the western Upper Peninsula continue to see the highest rates of new coronavirus infections at levels well above Michigan and national rates.
Iron, Houghton, Delta and Menominee counties have averaged between 30 to 81 cases a day for every 100,000 people. The state rate has been about 7 a day per 100,000 and nationally it has been about 11 cases per 100,000.
Although the populations are small in these counties, the case counts have been high: 30 new cases in Houghton County reported Wednesday, 27 in Delta and 19 in Iron County reported Wednesday.
Iron County has had 74 cases in the last two weeks, or 84 percent of all 88 cases it’s had since March. More than half (164) of Houghton’s 275 cases have come in the last two weeks and just under half (118) of Delta’s 244 cases. Menominee has had 62 cases in the last two weeks, one-fifth of all cases it has recorded since March.
But across all of the Upper Peninsula, hospitals were treating just 10 suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients, according to the state. There are 715 hospital beds in the region.
Statewide, there were 705 new cases reported Wednesday, bringing the total to 118,615 confirmed cases. There were three deaths reported, bringing that total to 6,692.
The state reported more than 32,500 tests, in which 2.9 percent were positive. — Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Sept. 22
State adds 504 new confirmed cases
New coronavirus cases in Michigan rose by 504 on Tuesday, the lowest count in two weeks.
The state also announced 15 new deaths, three of which were earlier deaths now blamed on COVID-19 following a review of health records.
Hospitalizations were up for the second day in a row, to 550 confirmed or suspected cases. It had fallen to 495 late last week, the lowest level in several months.
The relatively low case counts were also spread across the state, with Kent County (55) having the most. But that west Michigan county’s rate per 100,000 is still at 8 cases a day, just slightly above the state rate. Nationally it’s over 11 cases per day per 100,000.
Testing results showed 3.4 percent of nearly 19,600 tests came back positive, just above recent levels of around 3 percent.
Overall the state has recorded 117,910 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 6,680 deaths. As a nation, the death toll rose above 200,000 on Tuesday. — Mike Wilkinson
Hospitality workers can get $500 in assistance
Hospitality workers in Michigan who lost jobs during the pandemic can apply for up to $500 in a one-time assistance payment, starting today.
The funds come from a $2.5 million grant to the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA), which says 300,000 workers — about half employed in the industry — were affected by COVID-19 layoffs, work reductions and permanent closings.
Applicants must prove they were employed in the industry as of March 10. Restaurants were closed by executive order on March 16. They were allowed to reopen at reduced capacity by early June, but many still struggle amid operating losses and customer concerns about virus spread.
The grant comes from the Michigan Department of Treasury, which is using federal CARES Act money received by the state to fund the program.
Applications will be accepted until Oct. 1 at mrlaef.org/relief-fund. Payments of up to $500 will be provided to approved applicants until resources are fully depleted, according to the MRLA.
“We are thankful to Governor Whitmer and the Michigan legislators for their support of the state’s hospitality workers. More than half of the 600,000 hospitality workers in Michigan temporarily lost their jobs and too many restaurants across the state were unable to reopen after the shutdown,” said Justin Winslow MRLA President & CEO in a statement. — Paula Gardner
Monday, Sept. 21
Michigan’s latest coronavirus counts show case numbers climbing from recent averages, albeit slightly, with an average of 768 cases reported for both Sunday and Monday, along with 12 additional deaths.
On Mondays, the state reports data for the past two days and there were 1,536 new confirmed infections, or an average of 768 per day and six deaths per day.
And for the first time in about a week, Ingham County saw a decline in new daily cases, bringing the average daily cases to 82 over the last week, down from 87.
Michigan State University has seen a number of cases among students and the county has one of the highest rates per 100,000 people in the state, at 28 cases per 100,000, well above the statewide rate of about 8 cases a day per 100,000.
But case counts in a number of Upper Peninsula counties have risen, including Houghton where outbreaks have been noted at Michigan Technological University, but also in Iron, Menominee, Delta and Dickinson counties along or near the Wisconsin border.
Iron County has had 52 confirmed cases in the last two weeks; it had seen only 36 cases in the previous six months combined. Delta has seen 82 cases in the last 14 days, equal to a third of all its cases.
Testing results over two days showed that about 2.8 percent of more than 52,000 tests came back positive, just below the targeted threshold set by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration.
— Mike Wilkinson
Michigan reported 483 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, the lowest in 11 days, bringing the seven-day average to 621 daily cases, the lowest since Aug. 20.
Ingham County, which has had an outbreak among Michigan State University students, had the most cases with 64, but that is well below its seven-day average of 88. Kent County, with 41 new cases, had the second-highest number of cases among counties.
The state reported three new deaths and 12 others that are now attributed to COVID-19 after a review of death records.
Testing showed that 3.1 percent of nearly 34,000 tests reported Saturday were positive, in line with goals set by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Declines continued in Macomb, Oakland and the suburban Wayne counties, as did their seven-day averages from the prior week. The seven-day averages fell to 40 per day from 65 in Macomb; 58 from 106 in Oakland and 70 from 131 in suburbam Wayne. Detroit's average fell to 26 cases per day from 29.
The case counts per 100,000 people in all three counties was 5 daily cases or fewer, below the state rate of about 7 and the national rate of 12 cases per 100,000. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Sept. 18
Michigan public health officials on Friday reported the fewest daily coronavirus cases in more than a week as hospitalizations also fell to the lowest level since June 29.
The state reported 695 new confirmed cases, which pushed the seven-day average below 700, to 651, for the first time since Sept. 9.
And the number of in-patients treated at Michigan hospitals for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 dropped to 495, the second lowest ever reported since the pandemic began in March. It fell to 471 in-patients on June 29 before slowly rising, hitting 727 on July 30.
Much of the decline in hospitalizations was seen in the six counties of metro Detroit.
The state reported six COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 6,638 since March.
Ingham County led the state with 79 new confirmed infections, though that was lower than the seven-day average of 93 a day. Oakland County reported 70.
Of more than 33,500 tests, 3.1 percent were reported positive on Friday, in line with the state’s goal of 3 percent. — Mike Wilkinson
More homes near MSU under quarantine
Eleven large houses near Michigan State University have been added to a growing quarantine list by the Ingham County Health Department, while two residences have been removed.
In all, residents at 39 houses have been ordered to quarantine immediately for the next two weeks under orders by Ingham County health officer Linda Vail.
COVID-19 have climbed since Sept. 1 — a dramatic increase that Vail called “astounding” and mostly fueled by university students.
Earlier this week, Vail ordered the quarantine of 23 fraternities and sororities and seven large rental houses. Vail, who signed the latest order Thursday evening, said efforts to contain COVID had been stymied by a lack of cooperation in contact tracing and students’ continuing to gather without following social-distancing or mask protocols.
People who do not live in the residences are prohibited from entering the premises unless they are providing an essential service deemed necessary for the immediate health and safety of the residents. Violators face a misdemeanor punishable by a $200 fine and jail time.
“There are a lot of [students] doing the right thing and trying hard, but there are others who are not,” Vail told Bridge Michigan Wednesday, at which time one-hird of the cases for the year had been reported since Sept. 1.
As of Friday, Ingham County had reported 2,954 cases. — Robin Erb
Thursday, Sept. 17
State reports 829 new confirmed infections; positive tests fall
Despite an increase in the number of coronavirus cases found in and around Michigan’s universities and colleges, the percentage of positive tests statewide has fallen for the past week.
Three percent of more than 33,000 tests reported Thursday came back positive, down from the recent high of 4.4 percent reported on Sept. 10, which had been the highest percentage since late May.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she wants to see the state stay at or below 3 percent, which health experts say is important to identify and contain the virus’ spread.
The state reported 829 new cases of confirmed coronavirus infections on Thursday, the highest in a week, with 113 new infections reported in Wayne County, outside of Detroit, and 111 in Ingham, which is less than a third as populous as suburban Wayne County.
There were nine deaths r xeported Thursday, five of which attributed COVID-19 to earlier deaths after a review of health records. — Mike Wilkinson
19 businesses cited for COVID safety violations
Nineteen businesses in Michigan were ordered this week to pay fines over what the state called “serious violations” of safety and health workplace guidelines involving COVID-19.
Among the 19, 15 of the fines involved lack of face mask use. Other violations included a lack of health screenings, employee training, cleaning measures and overall preparedness plans to address workplace safety during the pandemic.
The citations come from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The investigations “determined that these employers were not taking precautions to protect employees and their communities from the spread of COVID-19,” MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said in a statement. “Failure to follow guidelines puts everyone at risk and these citations are meant to reiterate the employer’s responsibility to protect their employees.”
Fines totaled $51,400 for all of the businesses. Most were construction-related businesses that were based across the Lower Peninsula. Four were retailers, including a Home Depot in Dearborn Heights ($4,000), Belle Tire in Shelby Township ($7,000), Pilot gas station in Ottawa Lake ($3,500) and Shoppers Market in Warren ($1,500). One was a food packaging facility in Detroit, Fresh Pak, which was fined $4,900. The only restaurant on the list was Americus Grill in Brighton, which received a $400 fine.
The fines were issued under the “general duty” regulation, which allows fines up to $7,000 if a workplace contains recognized hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm to the employee.
The business will have 15 working days to contest the violations and penalties. The citations include suggestions to fix the hazards to protect employees, MIOSHA said.
Six businesses received COVID-related citations in August. — Paula Gardner
Wednesday, Sept. 16
Cases continue climb in Ingham; hospitalizations fall
Ingham County continued to see its coronavirus case rate far exceed the rest of the state, with 130 new confirmed cases reported Wednesday, nearly one-fifth of the entire state’s 680 new cases.
The new cases pushed the county’s rate to 35 new daily cases a day for each 100,000 people. For the state, the rate is just below eight cases a day for every 100,000. A week earlier, the rate had been 17 cases a day per 100,000 in Ingham.
Despite the bump in cases in Ingham, where Michigan State University has been seeing rising numbers of students get infected, the overall positive test rate was 3.1 percent on Wednesday among just over 31,000 tests.
Hospitalizations also declined slightly, with 558 in-patients currently being treated for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.
The state reported 11 new deaths as well, bringing the total to 6,623. There are another 320 probable COVID-19 deaths. Overall there have been 113,863 confirmed coronavirus cases and 11,879 probable cases. — Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Sept. 15
State reports 571 new infections as cases climb in Ingham
The number of coronavirus cases in Ingham County continues to climb, with the county reporting 103 new infections on Tuesday, pushing its rate to 33 cases per day for each 100,000 people in the county.
The statewide rate is below six cases per day per 100,000 people.
Overall, the state reported 571 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 11 deaths, five of which were earlier deaths reclassified as a result of COVID-19.
With a rate of 33 cases a day per 100,000, Ingham has seen its rate nearly triple in a week as health officials there have asked all students to voluntarily quarantine and nearly two-dozen fraternities and sororities to quarantine.
Wayne County, excluding Detroit, which has three times the population of Ingham County, had the second most new cases with 65.
Out of more than 25,400 tests, 3.6 percent came back positive, above both Monday’s recent low of 2.5 percent and the 3 percent goal set by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration. Over the last two weeks, the overall positive percentage is 3.4 percent. —Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Sept. 14
Michigan confirmed cases at 112,612; 6,601 deaths
Michigan public health officials reported nearly 1,100 new cases of coronavirus infections for Sunday and Monday, or an average of 544 for each day.
The state is now reporting only six days a week so Monday’s totals cover two days.
The state also reported 10 additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 6,601. There are another 320 probable COVID-19 deaths. There are now 112,612 confirmed cases of the virus and another 11,675 probable cases.
Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most new cases over the two-day period, with 141. Ingham County, where officials have asked for a quarantine for all Michigan State students, had 128 cases reported for Sunday and Monday.
But testing showed lower positive test rates, with 2.5 percent of more than 31,000 tests coming back positive for the most recent day.
Though there has been an increase in cases on college campuses, there has not been an increase in hospitalizations, with 600 confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients currently being treated in Michigan hospitals. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Sept. 14
Ingham County cases rise due to spike at MSU
Ingham County, where an outbreak at Michigan State University has prompted a recommendation to have students quarantine for the next two weeks, had the most new reported coronavirus cases in Michigan on Saturday, with 100 new cases.
Overall, the state reported 692 new cases on Saturday.
A far larger population center, Wayne County excluding Detroit, had the second most cases with 79.
For Ingham, the rising case counts have pushed the rate per 100,000 per day to 27 over the past week, roughly 2.5 times higher than the national rate of 11 and triple the state’s rate of just under eight new cases for every 100,000 people.
The state reported an additional 13 new deaths Saturday, all of which were from a review of prior deaths.
Testing results showed 3.2 percent of over 38,000 tests came back positive, a welcome reduction from the 4.4 percent seen on Friday. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Sept. 11
Cases surpass 1,300 for the first time since April
For the first time since late April, the state reported more than 1,300 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Michigan. Friday’s figures included nearly 300 cases in Oakland County, its highest single day since April 7.
The number of cases far exceeded any single-day counts in the last four months and pushes the state’s seven-day average to nearly 800.
A spokesman for Oakland County said the county recieved a backlog of over 300 positive test results from a laboratory that had not previoulsy been reporting results and they stretch back to mid-August.
Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, saw 177 new cases as well. But far less populous Ingham County, with 126 cases, and Ottawa, with 101, have an increasing numbers of cases among college students at Michigan State and Grand Valley State.
Of the new cases, over 700 were among people ages 10-29, over half of all cases reported for the day. Those ages make up roughly a quarter of the state's population.
The testing positivity rate rose as well, hitting 4.3 percent, the highest positive rate since it hit the same level on Aug. 10.
The state also reported nine additional deaths. — Mike Wilkinson
State logs highest number of cases since Aug. 15
Michigan had its highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases since Aug. 15 on Thursday with the state reporting 924 new cases.
Ingham County, with 124 new cases, had one of the highest numbers and saw its seven-day average jump to 65 cases a day, up from 15 the prior week. Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 202 new cases.
The state reported eight additional COVID-19 deaths, and nine previous ones that health officials blame on the coronavirus.
With a number of colleges and universities reporting hundreds of cases, the demography of the disease continues to shift toward younger people. Since Sept. 1, over half of all infections have been among people under 30 and 23 percent were under 20.
Before June 5, people under 30 made up just under 30 percent of cases and young people have, by far, the fastest growth rate in the last 10 days.
The number of hospitalized patients, however, fell to the lowest level in nearly two months, with Michigan hospitals reporting 577 suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients. The last time it was lower was July 13, when there were 543 reported coronavirus inpatients.
Just over 3 percent of the 33,000 tests reported Thursday came back positive, just above the state’s target level of 3 percent. — Mike Wilkinson
$300 a week unemployment boosts have started to arrive
Unemployed workers in Michigan have started to receive an extra $300 per week of benefits, dating back to the first three weeks of August.
That money comes from the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) plan, part of $2.8 billion in supplemental funding from federal revenues awarded to Michigan by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
However, not all laid-off workers will see the money this week.
“Due to the large volume of payments to be processed, workers will begin receiving LWA payments over the next week,” said the state in a news release on Thursday. It could be as long as 10 days before some of the state’s jobless residents receive their additional funds.
About 910,000 residents are eligible for the bonus payments, which initially will total $900 for the first three weeks of August.
To be eligible for LWA, a claimant’s weekly benefit amount must be at least $100 before deductions, according to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.
Workers do not have to file a separate claim or application for the payments, the state says. To qualify, claimants must have self-certified that they are unemployed due to COVID-19.
FEMA has made six weeks of payments available, according to the state, but Michigan had to re-apply for the second three weeks of additional benefits. If awarded, that would give unemployed residents an extra $300 per week through Sept. 5.
Meanwhile, Initial filings in Michigan for insured jobless benefits for the week ended Sept. 5 totaled 13,229, a decrease of 5,609 from the previous week, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since March, at least 2.2 million state residents applied for jobless benefits. — Paula Gardner
Michigan’s jobless claims fall; U.S. claims steady
Initial filings in Michigan for insured jobless benefits for the week ended Sept. 5 totaled 13,229, a decrease of 5,609 from the previous week, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Across the United States, initial claims reached 884,000 in the first week of September. That number is unchanged from the previous week. By the end of August, 13,385,000 Americans were receiving jobless benefits.
States seeing the biggest increase in initial filings at the end of August are California, Texas and Louisiana. Michigan had the fifth largest decline, following Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The national unemployment rate — which represents people actively looking for jobs — was 8.9 percent in August.
Michigan residents receiving jobless benefits of at least $100 will receive an extra $300 per week payout retroactive to the week that ended Aug. 1. That funding is through the federal Lost Wages Assistance plan through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Michigan officials said last week those payments should arrive this week. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer approved the funding in Senate Bill 745 on Tuesday, but no update is available on when unemployed residents will see the payments in their accounts. Also unclear is how many weeks of the extra payments will be available. Initial estimates from the Unemployment Insurance Agency were four to five weeks.
Meanwhile, among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff in the nation decreased by 3.1 million in August to 6.2 million, down from the series high of 18.1 million in April. However, the number of permanent job losers increased by 534,000 to 3.4 million; this measure has risen by 2.1 million since February.
That coincides with what Michigan-based economists told Bridge Michigan in August. “It’s becoming pretty clear that permanent job loss is beginning to increase,” said Michael Horrigan of Upjohn.
At that time, Michigan had recovered about half of the jobs lost to the pandemic, or about 540,000 positions. The state saw 266,000 jobs return in June; job gains fell to 103,000 in July. Updated numbers for August should be available soon. — Paula Gardner
Wednesday, Sept. 9
Michigan logs 783 cases as campus outbreaks spread
Michigan reported 783 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, with the most logged in suburban Wayne County, which had 166 cases.
With 103 cases, Ingham County had the second most cases as an increasing number of cases are coming from the Michigan State University campus.
Ingham County, with about 292,000 residents, is the seventh most populous county in the state. In the last week, the number of cases per 100,000 people there has been 17, five times higher than the rate (3 per 100,000) of the week before.
Ottawa County, where nearly 400 students at Grand Valley State University have tested positive for COVID-19, has seen its rate jump from 11 new cases a day per 100,000 to 18 cases in the last week.
The state also reported 13 additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 6,552. It also greatly raised the number of probable COVID-19 deaths to 335, up from 272 on Tuesday. Total confirmed cases stand at 108,595, with 11,268 probable cases.
Of more than 23,000 tests reported Wednesday, 3.9 percent were positive. The seven-day positive rate has risen from 3.1 percent to 3.5 percent in the last week.— Mike Wilkinson
Whitmer’s ‘real-time’ school coronavirus outbreak data could be a week old
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Friday for “real-time” release of information about coronavirus outbreaks at Michigan schools to inform parents and communities.
It turns out, though, that “real-time” disclosure will come weekly, and the outbreaks themselves may be older than that.
Whitmer had answered “absolutely” when asked whether she believes schools should report outbreaks daily, as a coalition of more than 30 Michigan news and transparency groups (including Bridge and the Center for Michigan) requested in a letter to the governor last week.
But when Bridge asked what “real-time” meant, Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown said the governor “was not agreeing or suggesting that there will be daily reporting, but was responding to the need to have timely and accurate information reported on school outbreaks.” Read the full story >
Tuesday, Sept. 8
Outbreaks rising in schools, colleges
There were 10 new coronavirus outbreaks in Michigan K-12 schools and colleges in the past week, according to data released Tuesday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The new outbreaks bring the total of new and ongoing outbreaks in schools and colleges to 22; the previous week, there were 14; the week before that, 10.
The state currently doesn’t provide the locations of the outbreaks or the number of cases associated with each outbreak. That will change next week, according to state health officials.
According to the state, there were three new outbreaks in K-12 schools between Aug. 28 and Sept. 3 (the most recent data available), and eight ongoing outbreaks. There were seven new outbreaks on college campuses during that same time period, and four ongoing. — Ron French
441 new cases, 1 new death
Michigan reported 441 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, and one additional death.
Elevated case rates are still being reported in areas with colleges and universities, including Ottawa, Ingham and Lenawee counties.
Overall, the state has reported 107,812 confirmed cases and another 11,090 probable cases of the virus since March. The total number of deaths stands at 6,539, with 272 probable deaths.
Testing results showed 3.2 percent of more than 17,400 tests came back positive. The state is targeting 3 percent as a goal.
Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most new cases, with 60, but it was below the seven-day average of 101. — Mike Wilkinson
Whitmer signs bill to give $300 a week in enhanced unemployed benefits
State officials last week said the funds, which will be retroactively added to payments from early August, should be received sometime this week. However, no official release date was available Tuesday from the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.
The additional payments come from $2.8 billion in supplemental funding from federal revenues awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Payments will be made until federal emergency disaster relief funding is exhausted. At this time, that’s estimated at four to five weeks.
“This is good news for the thousands of Michiganders who are still without work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s still a short term Band-Aid that falls short of what’s needed,” Whitmer said in a statement.
About 2.6 million Michigan residents have filed for jobless benefits since mid-March, with 2.2 million of those claims eligible for payouts. The maximum unemployment benefit in Michigan is $362 per week. Someone receiving that would receive $662 per week with the new benefit.
In addition to the unemployment funds, Senate Bill 745 also includes match funding for disaster flood cleanup in Midland and Gladwin counties, as well as funding to cover costs for flood response and mitigation efforts in Detroit. — Paula Gardner
Monday, Sept. 7
Michigan averages 578 cases Sunday and Monday
Michigan reported an average of 578 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday and Monday, and four new deaths.
The state has moved to reporting cases six days a week. Monday marked the first time that state officials reported two days’ results in one. Since Saturday, there were 1,156 new cases, or an average of 578 per day.
Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most cases, 235, but the cases-per-100,000 people rate remained unchanged at six.
As has been the case for the past two weeks, counties with colleges and universities, many doing systematic testing, had increases in cases, with the rates per 100,000 well above prior weeks.
Ingham (Michigan State University), Ottawa (Grand Valley State University) and Houghton (Michigan Technological University) all had weekly rates jump. In Houghton, the rate jumped from sixto 30 cases per 100,000; it rose from five to 20 in Ottawa and from four to 12 in Ingham.
The 75 cases in Houghton the past week is more than half of the 137 cases the county has had since March.
Testing results showed the positive rate crept over 3.5 percent in the last two days and had his 3.9 percent on Saturday. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Sept. 5
Ottawa County cases surge
Positive coronavirus cases in Ottawa County hit that west Michigan county’s highest level on Saturday, accounting for 129 of the state’s 838 newly confirmed cases.
The county has been reporting higher positive tests related to systematic testing of students at Grand Valley State University and earlier testing at Hope College.
The state also reported five new deaths Saturday and classified three prior deaths as being caused by COVID-19.
Overall, the state now has 106,215 confirmed coronavirus cases since March and 10,976 probable ones. There have been 6,534 confirmed deaths and 272 probable.
An epidemiologist in Ottawa County told Bridge Michigan earlier this week the increase in cases is not an indication of community spread because it is centered at the university and college.
Out of more than 36,000 tests across the state reported Saturday, 3.4 percent came back positive, slightly above the state’s target rate of 3 percent or lower.
The state also adjusted a number of cases it had reported Friday in Ionia County. It had reported 79 new cases there on Friday but on Saturday removed 69 of those cases. They were recategorized on Saturday as having come from within the state prison system in Ionia County.
NOTE: MDHHS recently announced it would stop reporting COVID-19 updates on Sunday for the foreseeable future. So come back to Bridge for the next coronavirus tracker update on Monday. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Sept. 4
Health officials Friday report most new cases since Aug. 15
A day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended her emergency powers, saying progress against the spread of the coronavirus had “eroded,” the state reported nearly 1,000 new cases, the highest amount in almost three weeks.
The state reported 982 new cases, the most since 1,015 were reported on Aug. 15. It pushed the seven-day average up to 674. Health officials also reported seven additional COVID-19 deaths.
In comments on WJR 760-AM radio, on Friday morning, Whitmer told host Kevin Dietz that the coronavirus was the “worst public health crisis in 100 years and we're doing it with grit and guts and the numbers speak for themselves.”
Despite extending her emergency powers until Oct. 1, Whitmer acknowledged that the virus is causing fewer illnesses and deaths and testing has been more widespread with a relatively low percentage of positive tests.
"We are making huge progress and most states in the nation would give anything to trade places with where we are,” she said, “ but we still have some areas that are very concerning."
Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most cases with 158, the most it has reported in over two weeks, and Oakland County reported 86 new cases.
The state reported that Ionia County in west Michigan had 79 new cases when it had had fewer than 200 before Friday. There’s a prison in Ionia and the state has, at times, misallocated cases in prisons to the counties they are in. Bridge Michigan has sought a comment from the state department of corrections.
Out of more than 28,400 tests administered, 3.5 percent have come back positive. Whitmer has set a goal of a positive rate of at or below 3 percent. In March and April, the positive test rate approached 40 percent. — Mike Wilkinson
Thursday, Sept. 3
Whitmer extends her executive order
With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 177th executive order this year — and just days after Michigan marked its 100,000th confirmed COVID-19 case — Michigan’s State of Emergency has been extended again.
The order, announced as the week wound down toward the Labor Day weekend, ends 11:59 p.m. Oct. 1.
“By extending the state of emergency, we can continue the crucial work needed to save lives,” Whitmer said in a prepared statement.
“With over 6,500 deaths, the virus continues to threaten the lives of Michiganders every day,” she wrote. “... We must continue to take this seriously and do everything we can to protect ourselves and all Michiganders from COVID-19.”
While Whitmer is correct that new cases continue to be reported, the statement extending the emergency doesn’t acknowledge some dramatic shifts in how the virus is impacting Michiganders. A Bridge Michigan analysis shows young people now make up a growing share of new cases and the number of people hospitalized on any given day has fallen dramatically, with far fewer dying.
In the first three months of the pandemic, 36 percent of the infected were over 60 years old and just 8 percent were under 30. Since then, just 17 percent are older than 60, while 43 percent are under 30.
The impact of that change has been sharp: In the first three months, 5,700 people died, many elderly residents at nursing homes. In July and August, there were 550 deaths.
Roughly 3 percent of all diagnostic tests are coming back positive, which state health officials have said is the level Whitmer wants to stay at or under. It’s also about half the national average of 6.1 percent.
The Thursday order extends the governor’s authority to make decisions without input from the GOP-dominated Legislature. Republican lawmakers have sued, challenging the constitutionality of Whitmer’s continued extensions of a statewide state of emergency since the first on March 10, the day the first cases were confirmed in Michigan. So far, courts have sided with Whitmer. — Mike Wilkinson and Robin Erb
685 new cases, 10 deaths reported
State public health officials reported 685 new cases of the coronavirus across Michigan and 10 additional deaths attributed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The highest number of cases were found in Macomb County (95) though other, less populous counties are showing higher seven-day rates, including Lenawee (19 cases per 100,000 people), Isabella (23) and Ottawa (13). Those counties have all had colleges or universities report dozens of cases.
There are 611 people being treated in Michigan hospitals for confirmed or suspected COVID-19, just below the two-week average of 630 and well below the peak number of about 4,000 in April.
Overall, the state has reported 104,395 confirmed coronavirus cases and 6,519 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. There have been another 10,847 probable cases and 272 probable deaths. — Mike Wilkinson
Michigan gyms, indoor pools can reopen Sept. 9
Under the order, gyms and pools must follow enhanced safety precautions to protect against the spread of coronavirus, and organized sports played indoors must have limited audiences. Read the full story >
Wednesday, Sept. 2
Reported cases leap in Ottawa County, fall in Macomb
Ottawa County in West Michigan saw a big jump in coronavirus cases Wednesday with the state reporting 73 cases there as the seven-day daily average in the county rose to 33 cases a day, up from 11 in the previous week.
The cases were among 524 new cases reported in the state, along with 14 new COVID-19 deaths.
For Ottawa County, the new cases pushed its daily rate to 11 cases per 100,000 people, up from four the previous week.
The state reported over 27,000 new coronavirus tests on Wednesday, with 3 percent coming back positive. The state’s goal is to see that rate stay at 3 percent or lower.
There were good signs too: Macomb County saw its average daily rate fall from 122 two weeks ago to 79 a day in the past seven days. Oakland County, suburban Wayne County and Detroit also saw declines.
But increases continue in Lenawee (33 new cases) and Isabella (22 new cases) counties. — Mike Wilkinson
White House adviser: Schools need to be transparent on COVID cases
President Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator on Wednesday said Michigan schools must be transparent in reporting COVID-19 information to parents.
Dr. Deborah Birx spoke privately in the morning with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who reportedly asked for a federal mandate on masks. Birx then met privately with health care leaders in Livonia midday to speak about Michigan’s continued battle against a virus for which there is yet no sure treatment or vaccine.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Birx addressed issues ranging from whether schools should notify the community of COVID outbreaks to a federal mask mandate to vaccine development.
She encouraged K-12 schools to be as transparent with communities about COVID-19 cases, but she stopped short of saying they should be required to do so.
The state of Michigan will not release names of schools with outbreaks, defined as at least two cases with an epidemiological link, until Sept. 14. And it’s unclear what information the state will include in its listing.
“Every school district knows … what their COVID case numbers are, and they need to be transparent about that to every single parent,” Birx said. “And frankly every single person who lives in a county should be going on that [state] website … and see whether there are cases in their county and if they're increasing.”
She lauded colleges that have been publicized case numbers.
“They're being very transparent about their cases and whether [cases are] student or staff or administration. I think that is enormously helpful to every university student out there,” she said.
Schools, she said, “will strictly be a reflection of what's happening in the community, and what's happening in that county.”
When it comes to mask mandates, Birx said they work best when they are passed locally and at a state level. Birx, who has been visiting different states during the pandemic, said retailers are most effective at changing behavior.
“This is my 26th state, and I have to say the best enforcement for masks is retail,” she said. “I will see people get out of their car and run up to the gas station and then they see the sign, ‘No mask. No entry.’
“That kind of constant behavioral reinforcement that we need to have a mask on when we're in public and anywhere. … Our private sector is really helping us get that message out,” she said. — Robin Erb
Michigan to identify K-12 schools with coronavirus outbreaks Sept. 14
Michigan families will know if there are COVID-19 outbreaks at their K-12 schools beginning Sept. 14 — the first full week of school following Labor Day, a state spokeswoman told Bridge Tuesday evening.
Details were still being hammered out as officials finalized processes to pass the information from the state’s schools and local health departments to the state, said Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The list will include not only the name and location of the K-12 school, but also the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at that school. Read the full story >
COVID-19 vaccine race heats up with clinical trials at 3 sites
The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is picking up as three medical centers in Michigan now are involved in Phase 3 clinical trials of three different vaccine candidates. The hope is at least one of them will prove to be safe and effective in preventing the disease that has killed more than 183,000 Americans.
The goal for all three trials will be to recruit 30,000 people across several sites nationally to test safety and immune responses to the vaccine. Read the full story >
Tuesday, Sept. 1
Cases continue rise in Michigan college towns
Case counts in college towns continued to grow as Michigan public health officials reported 718 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Tuesday.
There were 29 new cases reported in Lenawee County, where officials at Adrian College have reported a number of cases, and there were 18 more in Isabella County, which has seen an outbreak at Central Michigan University.
For both counties, the cases pushed up the seven-day average, as it did in Ottawa County, which saw 52 new cases, nearly tripling its seven-day average to 26 cases a day, up from 10. An outbreak has been recorded at Hope College in that county.
More populous counties like Oakland (100) and Macomb (98) had more cases but the rates per 100,000 were far lower (7 and 10 cases per 100,000) than those in Lenawee (12) and Isabella (28).
The state reported seven new COVID-19 deaths and eight prior deaths now considered COVID-19 deaths. The total deaths stands at 6,495 confirmed and 272 probable. There have been 103,186 confirmed coronavirus cases and 10,634 probable ones.
Just over 24,100 tests were reported Tuesday, with 3.3 percent coming back positive. The state’s goal is to keep the rate at 3 percent or lower.
There are 646 hospital patients being treated for coronavirus, roughly the same number that have been treated in the past two weeks. In April and May as many as 4,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized on some days. — Mike Wilkinson
Michigan news coalition urges Gov. Whitmer to identify school COVID-19 outbreaks
More than 30 Michigan news and government transparency organizations delivered a letter (below) to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday urging rapid release of school related COVID outbreak details as students and educators start the new school year.
In-person/in-school instruction is an option in many schools, yet through August, state and local health departments failed to publicly identify schools or colleges where more than a dozen COVID-19 outbreaks were traced. Read more >
Monday, Sept. 1
Cases elevated in Isabella County, home of CMU
Michigan public health officials reported 451 new coronavirus cases on Monday, along with seven new deaths.
The report brings the total confirmed cases to 102,468 and deaths to 6,480. There are an additional 10,557 probable cases and 273 probable deaths.
Though the most new cases were reported in metro Detroit, the numbers were relatively small, with 52 in suburban Wayne County and 47 in Oakland County.
The state continues to see elevated levels in Isabella County, where Central Michigan University is the site of an outbreak, with 16 new cases in that county. The rate of daily new cases in Isabella (28 per day per 100,000 people) is higher than the rate per 100,000 residents in metro Detroit, which was 5 per 100,000 in Wayne County and 7 cases per 100,000 in Oakland County and 10 in Macomb County.
Ottawa County just west of Grand Rapids reported 40 new cases Monday, which was double its seven-day average of 19 cases a day.
The positive test rate reported Monday was 3.2 percent, roughly the same as it has been for the past week. — Mike Wilkinson
Sunday, Aug. 31
539 new COVID-19 cases bring Michigan’s total to 102,017
With 539 new confirmed coronavirus cases recorded Sunday, Michigan’s total COVID-19 case count has risen to 102,017.
The state also recorded six new deaths, down from Saturday’s highest-since-June death count of 14. Michigan now has 6,473 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
The seven-day average of new cases was 749 as of Sunday. Test records showed a positive-result rate of 2.5 percent among 26,394 tests, putting Michigan within the state’s target positive test result range of 3 percent or lower.
County-level daily case rate changes are difficult to calculate because the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services did not publish datasets on Saturday containing county-by-county case totals.
Saturday, Aug. 29
14 new COVID-19 deaths Saturday, highest since June
Michigan recorded 799 new confirmed coronavirus cases Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 101,478.
Michigan also reported 14 new COVID-19 deaths, the most in a day since June 27. In addition, seven deaths were added to the total death count after a review of recent vital records, bringing Michigan’s total deaths to 6,467.
Michigan’s seven-day average of new cases dipped to 782 on Saturday, after rising above 800 on Friday. — Kelly House
Friday, Aug 28
Michigan hits 100,000 coronavirus cases
Michigan officially recorded its 100,000th confirmed coronavirus case on Friday as its seven-day average exceeded 800 new daily cases for the first time since early May.
The state reported 741 new cases, pushing the total to 100,699 since the first case was confirmed on March 10. Six new COVID-19 deaths were reported. There have now been 6,446 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most new cases, 102, followed by neighboring Macomb (99) and Oakland (89) counties. But Isabella County, where an outbreak has occurred at Central Michigan University, had the fifth most new cases, 31, in a county with the 27th largest population.
Testing results showed 3.3 percent of 33,268 tests came back positive. The state’s target has been 3 percent or lower.
The number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in Michigan hospitals continued to decline, with 607 inpatients at state hospitals, down from a recent high of 727 on July 30. Nearly 4,000 COVID-19 patients were admitted at the peak of the pandemic in April.— Mike Wilkinson
Michigan has reached an unwanted milestone in the coronavirus pandemic, recording more than 100,000 cases in the virus that has sickened tens of millions across the globe and caused over 830,000 deaths.
It's a staggering number for a virus first confirmed in the state on March 10. Since then, it has killed more than 6,400 residents and left more than 1 million jobless as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut businesses and schools in an effort to control the virus. See our charts and maps that analyzes where the virus started and where it headed, who's contracting it and who's dying from it, and what recent tests results reveal.
Thursday, Aug. 27
Total case count nears 100,000
Michigan pushed close to 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases Thursday, with 758 new reported infections.
That brings the total to 99,958 confirmed cases. Another 10,385 probable cases have been reported.
The state said there was one new COVID-19 death, along with 15 previous deaths that are now classified as caused by the coronavirus. Since the pandemic began, there have been 6,440 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and another 266 probables.
Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 161 cases, the most in nearly two weeks. Neighboring Macomb (91) and Oakland (89) counties had the second and third highest daily cases.
Testing revealed nearly 3.6 percent of nearly 31,000 tests came back positive. — Mike Wilkinson
Wednesday, Aug. 26
Positive rates decline as testing increases
Michigan reported Wednesday its lowest positive coronavirus test rate in over two months, with just 2.4 percent of more than 41,000 tests coming back positive.
It was also the second highest number of tests ever reported, just below the nearly 42,000 recorded Aug. 21. The previous low was 2.3 percent on June 21, when 10,659 tests were reported.
Public health officials have said the goal is to keep Michigan’s positive rate at or below 3 percent. At the height of the pandemic in March and April nearly 40 percent of tests were coming back positive.
The state also reported 761 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, in line with recent days and pushing the seven-day average up to 703 cases. Statewide, that amounts to just under eight cases for every 100,000 people; nationwide that rate is 13 cases per 100,000.
Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most new cases with 141, followed by Oakland County (134) and Macomb County (98).
There were seven new deaths reported, bringing the total to 6,423 since March. There are now 98,200 confirmed coronavirus cases and another 10,280 probable cases. There are 266 probable deaths. — Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Aug. 25
779 new cases, 11 deaths reported in the last day
Michigan’s coronavirus cases remained near 800 again Tuesday, with 779 confirmed cases reported.
The state also reported 11 new deaths and classified six previous deaths as caused by COVID-19. The 11 new deaths marked just the third time since July 8 that there were 10 or more new deaths.
Overall, the state has reported 98,439 confirmed cases and 6,417 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
The state prison system reported 200 new cases on Tuesday, by far the most of any entity. Macomb (84), Oakland (83) and suburban Wayne (70) counties were the next three highest counties. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Aug. 24
868 new cases, 4 deaths in the last day
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 868 new confirmed coronavirus cases and four additional deaths on Monday.
The elevated number comes after a couple of days of big swings, perhaps caused by problems on Friday with reporting the numbers. The state reported 374 cases on Friday but said there was limited reporting that day and future days could have higher numbers than would be expected.
Monday’s cases brought the seven-day average up to 639, giving the state about six new cases a day for every 100,000 people. Nationwide, that number is twice as high, or 13 cases per 100,000, according to the Washington Post.
Macomb County (138), followed by Oakland County (128) and Wayne County, excluding Detroit, (115), had the most new cases reported Monday.
About 3 percent of coronavirus tests reported Monday came back positive, a safe level that allows public health officials to quickly identify outbreaks.
All told, there have been 97,660 confirmed cases in the state since March, along with 10,026 probable ones. There have been 6,397 confirmed deaths and 266 probable ones. — Mike Wilkinson
Health emergency declared as COVID spreads at Central Michigan University
Coronavirus cases connected to the return of students at the Mount Pleasant campus doubled over the weekend, prompting the declaration of a public health emergency in Isabella County to limit the size of gatherings. Read the full story >
Care or punishment? Michigan prisoners placed in solitary
Coronavirus cases are surging in Michigan prisons after a two-month lull, and some experts say the state has resorted to inhumane and ineffective treatment of prisoners to try to contain the virus.
Since March, the Michigan Department of Corrections has placed inmates who are sick or suspected of being so in solitary confinement — which is normally reserved for punishment — and grouped them in “cohorts” that allowed the virus to spread to the healthy, according to an investigation by Bridge Michigan reporting partner Outlier Media. Read the full story >
Sunday, Aug. 23
768 new cases confirmed on Sunday
There were 768 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan reported Sunday. The seven-day average of daily cases is now 582, a significant decline from last Sunday (Aug. 16), when the seven-day average was 760.
Isabella County continues to be a hotspot, with almost a quarter of all its confirmed cases of the coronavirus being reported in just the past three days. The county has recorded 68 new infections since Thursday, after recording 208 total before then. Health officials tie the spike to the return of students to the Mt. Pleasant campus of Central Michigan University.
Macomb County reported the most new cases Sunday, with 143, followed by Wayne County outside of Detroit (137) and Oakland County (126).
Four more Michigan residents died from COVID-19 in the 24-hour recording period ending at 10 a.m. Sunday, raising the state’s confirmed death toll to 6,393, with another 266 deaths that health officials say were likely caused by the coronavirus.
Total confirmed infections now stand at 96,792, with another 10,016 probable cases.
Saturday, Aug. 22
953 new coronavirus cases added Saturday
There were 953 new confirmed cases of coronavirus reported in Michigan by 10 a.m. Saturday, raising the total number of confirmed Michigan cases to 96,024 since the pandemic struck the state in March.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases now stands at 553.
In Isabella County, home of Central Michigan University, there were 49 new confirmed infections in the past two days – a new case every hour. The total number of coronavirus cases in the mid-Michigan county since the pandemic began jumped 23 percent in just two days.
CMU began classes Monday, Aug. 17, and five days later, there were 38 new coronavirus cases connected to students returning to campus, according to the Central Michigan District Health Department.
Macomb County had the most new cases reported Saturday (201), followed by Oakland County (189) and Wayne County outside of Detroit (145).
There were three coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, and eight previous deaths added to the overall state tally following a vital records review. So far, 6,389 Michigan residents are confirmed to have died from COVID-19.
Friday, Aug. 21
Confirmed cases down after data reporting glitch
Problems at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services caused a glitch in data reporting on Friday, with just 374 new confirmed cases reported and 10 additional deaths.
Officials said the number was lower than it would have been if not for problems handling information from testing laboratories. Because of the problems, state public health officials said higher numbers would be reported in coming days.
The numbers brought the totals to 95,071 confirmed cases and 6,378 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
Because of the problems, the state did not release county-by-county results nor testing data.
The 374 cases is well below what has been seen on recent Fridays, with over 700 on the past two Fridays.
Thursday, Aug. 20
Confirmed cases decline, a low since July 1
Newly confirmed coronavirus cases fell to 419 on Thursday, the lowest midweek day (Tuesday through Friday) since July 1.
Case counts have typically been lower on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
The daily total also triggered a major drop in the seven-day average, to 615 from 715, hopeful signs as schools, colleges and universities are about to start the new year.
There were 19 new deaths reported, 11 of which were prior deaths that authorities now believe were caused by COVID-19.
The cases bring the total confirmed cases to 94,697 and deaths now stand at 6,368.
For more interactive maps and charts, see the Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard, showing case numbers by day, locations, deaths and demographics.
Note: As of 4 p.m. on Aug. 20, some of the state data had been delayed by technical difficulty and not all graphics have been updated. — Mike Wilkinson
Today in Bridge:
- Michigan has 14 school-related coronavirus outbreaks. State won’t say where.
- Data show most Michigan schools safe to reopen, but plans all over map
Wednesday, Aug. 19
State reports 616 new cases
Michigan public health officials reported 616 new confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday and nine additional COVID-19 deaths.
The caseload put the seven-day average at 715, slightly above Tuesday but below 760 hit on Sunday.
All told, there are now 94,278 confirmed cases and 9,813 probable and 6,349 confirmed deaths and 268 probable.
Testing numbers showed 3 percent of tests were positive, out of more than 32,900 taken. — Mike Wilkinson
Unemployment rate declines as pandemic job cuts are recovered
Michigan’s unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 8.7 percent in July, according to information released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. A month earlier, it was 14.8 percent.
Payroll jobs in Michigan rose by 103,000 in July, but the state said that the number was “well below” the 266,000 jobs added in June, when the unemployment rate was 14.8 percent.
Meanwhile, the U.S. jobless rate in July was 10.2 percent, 1.5 percentage points above Michigan’s rate.
“Michigan has now recovered about half of the coronavirus-related job cuts that occurred in March and April 2020,” said Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Payroll employment has increased by about 540,000 over the three-month period of May through July 2020.”
Uncounted in the unemployment numbers are people who have stepped out of the labor force and aren’t looking for jobs, including people who may be on long-term unemployment or who are choosing to stay home with children.
That number may be contributing to problems with analyzing the drop in the unemployment rate.
“Michigan labor force estimates in July 2020 were difficult to evaluate, particularly due to a sharp estimated reduction in the number of unemployed,” according to the state’s news release.
Meanwhile, most major industry sectors showed employment increases in July. According to the state, leisure and hospitality showed the largest gain, with 28,000 jobs added.
All of Michigan’s major industries have seen job cuts since July 2019. — Paula Gardner
Whitmer announces $60 million for needy schools
An additional $60 million in federal funding will be available to Michigan’s neediest schools prepare to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday.
More than half of a district’s students must be considered economically disadvantaged to qualify for additional funding. Money will be allocated based on the numbers of low-income, special education and English language learning students.
“We developed this formula to help schools and students and educators who are going to struggle the most as we try to resume life in the midst of this pandemic,” Whitmer told reporters Wednesday.
The money, which can be used for internet updates, personal protective gear and the like, may not go far: 60 percent of the state’s 587 school districts and more than 80 percent of its 300 charters have students populations with more than 50 percent of students who are “economically disadvantaged.”
An additional $5.4 million will be allocated for mental health services across the state, public television learning resources and a program for infant and toddler remote education.
The funding comes out of $89.4 million allocated to Michigan under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund, a $3 billion fund created through the CARES Act stimulus package approved by Congress in March to be spent at the governor’s discretion. Whitmer has until mid-May 2021 to spend the rest of the money. — Riley Beggin
Tuesday, Aug. 18
MSU moves undergrad classes online, tells dorm residents to stay home
Michigan State University has told undergrad students preparing to live on campus to stay home this fall, as fear grows that stringent health protocols won’t be enough to stop the spread of the coronavirus among students and staff.
The announcement, sent to students and parents after 5 p.m. Tuesday, said all undergraduate classes were being moved online, and that students who’d signed leases to live in dorms should instead take their classes remotely from home if possible. MSU becomes the first public university in the state to take such aggressive measures to limit the number of students on campus this fall. — Read the full story >
Michigan added 477 cases
Michigan’s coronavirus case count rose 477 on Tuesday, with 15 new deaths.
The cases were below last Tuesday’s 557 and put the seven-day average at 703 cases a day, or seven cases per 100,000. The U.S. average is about 16 cases per 100,000.
Of the 15 deaths, seven were added to the total following a review of prior death records.
All told, there are now 93,662 confirmed cases and 9,741 probable and 6,340 confirmed deaths and 268 probable.
Testing numbers showed just 2.7 percent of tests were positive, below the 3.4 percent shown in both of the last two weeks. Public health experts say rates below 5 percent are a sign that outbreaks can be quickly identified.
Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most new reported cases, 90, and Macomb County, which had been above 100 for most recent days, reported 69 new cases. Oakland County had 57, the only other county over 50. — Mike Wilkinson
Monday, Aug. 17
Michigan reports 465 new cases
After a couple of days of more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, Michigan reported 465 new confirmed cases on Monday, and one new death.
The case count, which has typically been lower on Mondays, is below last Monday’s 514 and well below Thursday and Saturday, which exceeded 1,000. The seven-day average stayed steady at 747.
Those numbers bring the totals to 93,185 confirmed cases and 6,325 confirmed deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. There also are 9,564 probable cases and 267 probable deaths.
Testing results showed that 3.5 percent of nearly 19,344 tests came back positive, the same percent over the past week.
Macomb (87) and Oakland (82) counties had the most new cases, followed by suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, with 70 cases.
More than 8 percent of newly reported tests in Macomb came back positive, and nearly 6 percent in Oakland, two of the highest rates in the state. Tuscola County was at 6.1 percent.
Sunday, Aug. 16
565 new cases reported Sunday
Michigan public health officials reported 565 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, and six new deaths.
Those numbers bring the totals to 92,720 confirmed cases and 6,324 confirmed deaths. There have been 9,539 probable cases and 268 probable deaths.
Testing results showed that 3.6 percent of nearly 29,900 tests came back positive.
Michigan officials on Sunday also changed the location of nearly 170 cases reported on Saturday.
On Saturday, the state’s numbers indicated that Muskegon County had seen an increase of 168 cases, by far the most ever seen in a day there — the previous high had been 29.
However, the numbers released Sunday show 156 fewer cases in Muskegon County from the day before, and 11 fewer in Luce County. An official from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services explained that the state had initially assigned prison virus cases to the general populations in those counties before later confirming they were prison cases.
Both counties are home to state prisons and the Muskegon facility has been hard hit by an outbreak. The Michigan Department of Corrections saw its case count rise 181 on Sunday — the largest increase of any county or entity in the state — after increasing by 114 on Saturday.
Macomb County reported 94 new cases and Oakland County reported 92 on Sunday. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Aug. 15
More than 1,000 cases
Michigan’s daily coronavirus case count exceeded 1,000 for the second time in three days Saturday. Another 18 deaths were also reported.
The 1,015 cases follows 1,121 on Thursday and pushes the seven-day average to 753, its highest mark since Aug. 1.
Overall, there are now 92,155 confirmed cases and 9,627 probable cases and 6,318 confirmed deaths and 268 probables ones in Michigan. Fourteen of Saturday’s reported deaths were added after a review of earlier death records.
For the first time ever, Muskegon County reported the most cases in the state, 168, nearly six times more than its previous one-day high of 29 on May 14.
The state prison in Muskegon has had a large outbreak in the past two weeks, and the Michigan Department of Corrections reported 114 new cases system-wide on Saturday.
Bob Wheaton, a state health spokesperson, said the confirmed cases in Muskegon are likely related to the prison. He also said it was “too early” to determine if the recent uptick of cases is a trend.
“We certainly don’t like to see this many cases in a day, but we need to look at more data — including onset dates — over a greater period of time,” he said. “This is all the more reason for masking up, hand washing and other precautions.”
Statewide, just over 4 percent of tests were positive, though it was 27 percent in the prison system. In metro Detroit, both Macomb (6.6 percent) and Livingston counties (6.1 percent) were over 6 percent. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Aug. 14
11 new COVID deaths
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan rose 748 today with 11 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
The case count is markedly lower than Thursday’s 1,121, which was the highest since May 14, and more in line with what the state has been seeing over the past two weeks.
The new cases bring the total to 91,140 confirmed cases and 6,300 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. There are another 9,584 probable cases and 266 probable deaths.
Nearly 39,300 tests were reported Friday, with 3.5 percent coming back positive.
Metro Detroit continued to lead the state in new infections, with Oakland County reporting 140 new cases, and both Macomb County and suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reporting 116.
Over the last week, Macomb County has had a positive test rate of 7 percent, compared to the statewide rate of 3.3 percent over the same time frame. It was 4.7 percent in suburban Wayne, 4.4 percent in Oakland and 2.7 in Detroit.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive and chief deputy director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said state officials are monitoring long-term trends and noted the higher rates of infection in metro Detroit. But she also pointed out the overall positive test rate of 3.2 percent.
“We also continue to see a low level of deaths,” Khaldun said during a Friday news conference regarding the pandemic. “These are all good signs.” — Mike Wilkinson
Michigan to provide 4 million free face masks
Michigan, Ford Motor Co. and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are teaming up to provide 4 million face masks to “residents who are most vulnerable to COVID-19,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday.
The state has already sent 1.5 million masks from FEMA to local Community Action Agencies serving low-income residents, MDHHS offices, Area Agencies on Aging, homeless shelters and Native American tribes.
Another 1.5 million masks from Ford and FEMA will go to schools in low-income areas, the City of Detroit, local health centers, COVID-19 testing sites and other organizations.
The partnership “is going to save lives,” Whitmer said in a press briefing.
The program is designed to reach minority populations and linked to work by the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.
The coronavirus has had a disproportionate impact on African Americans in Michigan. Black residents comprise about 14 percent of the state’s population but as of Thursday accounted for nearly 40 percent of deaths, 2,457 of 6,289, Gilchrist said, pointing to likely reasons for that disparity.
Among the likely reasons for the disparity, Gilchrist said, is that “people of color who don’t have the financial luxury of working from home … take public transportation to get groceries and other services and don’t have access to quality health care in a consistent way.” — Jonathan Oosting
Thursday, Aug. 14
Daily cases jump past 1,100
Michigan public health officials reported 1,121 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, the single most daily cases reported since May 14 and a sharp departure from recent trends.
The state also reported 16 deaths, seven from the past day and nine other earlier deaths that officials now blame upon COVID-19.
All told, the state has risen above 90,000 confirmed cases, with 90,392. There are another 9,464 probable infections. The death toll is at 6,289, with another 266 probable deaths.
Previous spikes have been explained by backlogs of tests or problems with the time frame of reporting periods and Thursday’s spike comes one day after a recent midweek low, when 517 cases were reported.
Bob Wheaton, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said there were no problems with the data but said they should be looked at cautiously.
“We need to be careful about reading too much into one day’s data, but we will be closely watching and looking for trends that this data might contribute to on a bigger picture level,” he said.
Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 223 new cases, the most in the state, with neighboring Oakland County reporting 201. For both it’s the highest daily total in weeks.
The state also reported conducting 40,441 tests, the most ever. The positive rate remained low at 3.1 percent. — Mike Wilkinson
Every school district and charter school in Michigan by Friday will have filed their reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year.
If the early plans or announcements made so far are any indication, most public school students can expect to start the school year similar to the way they ended the last: online.
For most school administrators, this is not the ideal situation. But it’s the new reality as they weigh health and safety concerns. Officials in districts that are offering some form of online learning in the fall are weighing the same things but are moving toward a face-to-face return in part to address parents’ needs.
Weekly unemployment claims below 1 million
About 963,000 Americans filed for jobless benefits during the week ended Aug. 8, including 14,462 from Michigan, according to numbers released Thursday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The number of filings is the first time fewer than 1 million sought unemployment since the pandemic started in the spring. Michigan claims dropped from 19,842 a week earlier.
More than 51 million people in the United States have filed for benefits since mid-March, according to the BLS. That represents workers affected by both temporary and permanent layoffs due to coronavirus.
Michigan's unemployment rate in June was 14.8 percent, down 6.5 percentage points from May. Five states have a higher unemployment rate: California (14.9), Nevada (15), New York (15.7), New Jersey (16.6), and Massachusetts (17.4).
Meanwhile, the U.S. rate was 11.1 percent in June. New details for July unemployment will be updated on Aug. 21.
So far, at least 2.4 million Michigan residents have filed for jobless benefits since the coronavirus prompted business shutdowns and a statewide stay-at-home order in March. At least 500,000 are receiving ongoing payments.
Jobless payments no longer include an additional $600 per week through the federal CARES Act. Congress continues to negotiate the next step in unemployment relief, following an executive order by President Donald Trump that would add up to $400 weekly to payments, with 25 percent of that coming from state unemployment insurance funds.
In Michigan, the maximum benefit is $362 per week. The average payout was $325 in April, before part-time and “gig” economy workers were allowed into the system through the CARES Act. — Paula Gardner
Wednesday, Aug. 12
At 517 new confirmed coronavirus cases, Michigan reported the fewest midweek cases in nearly three weeks on Wednesday.
The total brings to 89,271 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March. The state reported nine new deaths, bringing that total to 6,273.
Only Macomb County, with 112 new cases, exceeded 100. Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 82.
Seven of Michigan’s 83 counties reported one case while 43 reported none.
Statewide, the 517 cases represent five new cases per 100,000 people. In harder hit southern states, cases rates are far higher: Georgia has reported 37 per 100,000 this week, according to the Washington Post, while Florida reported 32 and Alabama reported 30 per 100,000.
Nationwide, the rate was 12 cases per 100,000 on Tuesday. — Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Aug. 11
Confirmed cases rise by almost 800 on outbreak among inmates
A coronavirus outbreak among Michigan prison inmates pushed the state’s new daily cases to almost 800 on Tuesday, the highest number since July 29.
The Michigan Department of Corrections had 181 new cases on Tuesday and they follow an outbreak of hundreds of other positive cases at the Muskegon prison.
The state reported five deaths on Tuesday and two prior deaths that are now determined to be COVID-19 related, bringing the total to 6,264 since the beginning of the pandemic. There are now 88,756 confirmed coronavirus cases and another 9,457 probable cases. — Mike Wilkinson
Fall sports canceled at U-M, MSU
Fall sports won’t take place this year at the University of Michigan or Michigan State University following a decision on Tuesday by the Big Ten Conference.
The 2020-21 fall sports season, including all regular-season contests and Big Ten Championships and Tournaments, was postponed due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement by the conference.
The decision came days after the Mid-American Conference also announced that it would postpone its fall sports, with Central, Western and Eastern Michigan universities all affected by that decision.
“It became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in the statement.
Colleges across the country are making decisions about how they’ll shape the fall semester amid coronavirus. Many in Michigan are announcing online classes or hybrid classes with only a portion of classes offered in person. They’re also releasing the steps they’re taking to allow students and staff on campus, with schools like MSU saying this week that they expect all students and staff to fill out daily health screening forms before they step onto the property.
The Big Ten comprises 14 schools that compete in Division 1-A. Collectively, just the schools’ football programs generate over $1 billion in revenue. Other fall sports affected are men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball.
“This latest decision was reached after careful consideration and the grim knowledge that this pandemic continues to affect our country adversely,” said Warde Manuel, U-M’s athletic director. “I am deeply saddened for our student-athletes and remain committed to our ongoing promise to provide them with a world-class education. We remain grateful to our global Michigan family for their unwavering support."
President Donald Trump has urged athletic conferences to preserve the fall season, tweeting on Monday, “Play College Football.” Cases of coronavirus in the U.S. reached 5.1 million this week, and many areas— including Michigan— are seeing increases in disease spread among young people.
Home games are major economic drivers in many Big Ten communities. In Ann Arbor, the spending associated with visitors for games reached an estimated $81.8 million in 2013 — and estimates today put that figure much higher. The economic loss will be felt across the city. Read more > — Paula Gardner
Study: Gaiters, stretchy masks 'counterproductive'
Not all masks are created the same, and in some cases, some face coverings — gaiters in particular — may help spread droplets that can carry COVID-19, according to a new study.
Testing 14 different face coverings, Duke University researchers determined the “relative droplet spread” varied greatly. The good news: Some easily-accessible cotton masks protected nearly as well as surgical masks.
But when it comes to masks with stretchy, thin material, it may be safer not to wear them at all, according to the researchers, who published their early findings Friday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances.
“We attribute this to the fleece, the textile, breaking up those big particles into many little particles. They tend to hang around longer in the air and get carried away easier in the air,’ said Martin Fischer, director of Duke’s Advanced Light Imaging and Spectroscopy facility.
Using a laser and a cellphone camera, the team measured the droplet spread as study participants uttered the words “Stay healthy, people” five times while wearing the variety of masks, according to a Duke video explaining the effort.
They concluded that wearing such stretchy, thin materials may be “counterproductive” to curbing COVID-19, Fischer said.
“It’s not a case that any mask is better than nothing. There are some masks that actually hurt rather than do good. — Robin Erb
Monday, Aug. 11
Michigan’s coronavirus count stayed below 600 for the second day in a row Monday, with the state reporting 557 cases and eight new deaths.
The case numbers bring the seven-day average to 653, the level where the state has hovered for six days after more than seven weeks of steady increases.
Metro Detroit’s Oakland County reported the most new cases, 113, on Monday, with Macomb County reporting 112.
The eight deaths raised the overall number to 6,257.
The total number of cases since March is 87,960. Combined with 9,346 probable cases —people with virus symptoms who had contact with a known confirmed cases — the state has 97,306 total cases. — Mike Wilkinson
Michigan Senate to meet Saturday for schools reopening debate
Parents and school administrators hoping for return-to-school rule certainty from state government will have to wait another week.
The Michigan Senate and House are unlikely to meet Wednesday as originally scheduled but are instead planning rare Saturday and Monday sessions, respectively, as lawmakers scramble to finalize rules to govern school districts amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The debate has already been delayed for more than a week after state Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on July 31 and went into a two-week quarantine.
It’s not clear if any lawmakers who had contact with Barrett prior to his diagnosis have also self-isolated, but no additional members have tested positive, Senate GOP spokesperson Amber McCann told Bridge.
A Michigan House plan approved last month would require districts to offer in-person instruction to younger students up to Grade 5, but it appears unlikely that Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would sign legislation with that kind of mandate.
Public education groups are asking lawmakers to ditch that plan and focus on relaxing typical rules for student counts and daily attendance to help districts already adopting their own local plans for in-person instruction, online learning or hybrid approaches. — Jonathan Oosting
Sunday, Aug. 9
Michigan reports 514 new coronavirus cases, 2 deaths
Michigan reported 514 new coronavirus cases Sunday and two deaths, the lowest number of new cases in a week.
Michigan health officials removed three deaths from the state’s COVID-19 tally on Sunday, saying they were removed after local health officials “corrected” prior deaths attributed to the pandemic.
That dropped he state’s overall death toll was reduced to 6,249, down one from Saturday.
The state, in a note on its coronavirus dashboard web page, explained the change.
“Two additional deaths were reported today and three cases previously marked as deceased were corrected by local health jurisdictions,” according to the state. “These cases may have been recorded as deceased in error or jurisdictions may have received additional information indicating previously reported deaths were determined to not be COVID-19 associated.” — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Aug. 8
After months of either steady declines or increases, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan held steady at 698 Saturday as seven-day averages remained flat just under 700 cases.
Three COVID-19 deaths were reported Saturday, two of which were earlier deaths now ascribed to COVID-19.
Macomb County, the state’s third-most populous county, had the most new cases,136. Oakland County, the second most populous, reported 133 cases. Combined, Wayne County had 130 cases split between the suburbs (99 cases), and Detroit (31).
There was a surge of new tests, with nearly 37,700 completed with a positive rate of 2.8 percent, the lowest since late June. It was the most tests ever reported in a single day. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, Aug. 7
Macomb County in metro Detroit recorded the most new cases in the state Friday, with 161 cases of the 762 reported cases statewide.
For Macomb, it was the highest single-day case count since April 23 and pushed the county’s seven-day average to 114, well above the seven-day average of 68 three weeks ago.
Oakland County reported 114 new cases and suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 86. The Michigan prison system, which is monitoring an outbreak at its Muskegon prison, reported 62 new cases.
Statewide, there are now 86,191 confirmed cases and 6,247 deaths. No new deaths were reported Friday.— Mike Wilkinson
Thursday, Aug. 6
Virus cases remain relatively steady
New confirmed coronavirus cases hit 722 Thursday, keeping the seven-day average at roughly 650 cases.
Oakland County, which on Wednesday reported an outbreak of cases tied to youth parties and “prom-like” events, reported 144 new cases, the most in the state. Neighboring Macomb County reported 109 cases.
The state also reported 26 deaths: 9 that were new and 17 after a review of prior deaths that determined a direct connection to COVID-19. — Mike Wilkinson
Record-breaking turnout in August primary
Michigan’s primary election Tuesday drew 2.5 million voters — the largest turnout for an August primary in the state. The number surpasses the last record high of 2.2 million voters in the 2018 August primary.
Nearly two-thirds voted absentee, another record high of 1.6 million beating out the former record of 1.3 million in the 2016 November election.
“We are really proud that we blew it out of the water and voters really showed up.” Benson said. “It demonstrated even in the midst of a pandemic people want to vote.”
She attributed that success in part to her decision to mail absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters — a controversial move that has raised concerns especially among Republicans who fear it will invite fraud.
The large number of absentee voters, she said, contributed to calm polling places on Tuesday with no long lines or crowding.
While four of the state’s largest counties — Wayne, Oakland, Genesee and Ingham — still tabulated votes into Wednesday afternoon and evening, most counties reported results by Wednesday morning, earlier than anticipated due to the more laborious processing requirements for absentee ballots.
More than 10,000 absentee ballots were rejected in the primary. That’s largely because they either reached the clerk’s office after Election Day or they had an insufficient signature, or other reasons, Benson’s office said.
She called for legislative changes to improve the voting process for the November election — when two or three times more absentee ballots can be expected and an even higher voter turnout is likely — including allowing absentee ballots received after Election Day to count and allowing some pre-processing of ballots before Election Day.
She also reiterated that she’s pushing for an additional $15 million in federal funding to help fund more staff, equipment and educational materials ahead of the November election. – Riley Beggin
17,000 more Michigan residents seek unemployment
About 1.18 million Americans filed for jobless benefits during the week that ended Aug.1, including 17,029 Michigan residents, according to numbers released Thursday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s down from the previous week, when 23,219 state residents sought to replace lost wages for the week ending July 25. Nationally, filings dropped by 249,000.
More than 50 million people since mid-March have filed for benefits because of temporary or permanent layoffs because of the coronavirus, including 2.4 million Michigan residents. At least 500,000 residents statewide are receiving ongoing payments.
Those payments no longer include an additional $600 per week through the federal CARES Act. Congress continues to negotiate the next step in unemployment relief.
In Michigan, the maximum benefit is $362 per week. The average payout was $325 in April, before part-time and “gig” economy workers were allowed into the system through the CARES Act.
Michigan's unemployment rate in June was 14. 8 percent, down 6.5 percentage points from May. The U.S. rate was 11.1 percent in June. — Paula Gardner
Wednesday, Aug. 5
Top doctor says Michigan cases leveling off
Coronavirus cases in Michigan are beginning to level off, says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive.
That’s welcome news: Cases have been spiking in the state since mid-June, when the stay-at-home order ended and many businesses began reopening.
On Wednesday afternoon, hours after Khaldun spoke, the state reported 657 new confirmed cases, which lowered the seven-day average to 648. The seven-day average had risen steadily throughout July, rising from 311 on July 1 before hitting 768 on Aug. 1.
The state reported two additional COVID-19 deaths, for a total of 6,221. There have been 84,707 confirmed coronavirus cases.
Khaldun said cases varied across the state:
- In the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo areas, health officials are finding about 40 cases per million people every day with cases decreasing in the past three weeks.
- The Jackson area and the Upper Peninsula have about 35 cases per million people every day, with cases decreasing over the last two weeks.
- In the Saginaw area, there are about 30 cases per million people daily, with cases decreasing over the last week.
- In the Lansing area, there are about 30 cases per million people every day but cases have been increasing in the last two weeks.
- The Traverse City area is the only region with fewer than 10 cases per million people per day. Their cases have been increasing over the last three weeks.
- Testing is remaining steady at about 28,000 tests a day, which means around 2 percent of the population is being tested every week, Khaldun said. Hospitalizations and deaths remain low.
“These are all good signs, and we will continue to monitor these metrics. But as we all know, even if a trend is stabilizing it only takes a few people to create an outbreak and have the disease spread rapidly. So these plateauing trends are not reasons to let our guards down,” she said.
Outbreaks continue to pop up across the state, Khaldun said. Last week, public health workers investigated 99 new outbreaks — up from 78 the week before. Most outbreaks come from nursing homes and long-term care facilities, social gatherings, and schools, including colleges and day-care centers.
“We have to keep fighting this disease that’s still very present across the state,” Khaldun said. “We’re seeing way too many outbreaks and our cases are not yet low enough to think we can let our guard down even for a moment.” — Riley Beggin and Mike Wilkinson
Tuesday, Aug. 4
Michigan prisons report surge in cases
The Michigan prison system reported 88 new coronavirus infections Tuesday, the most from that agency since late May and part of 664 new cases reported statewide.
The Michigan Department of Corrections tested two housing units last week at its Muskegon prison after some prisoners and staff tested positive, said Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the department.
Gautz said 86 tests came back positive at the Muskegon facility, or nearly half of the 177 tests for which they have results. They are awaiting the results of 270 tests conducted last Friday and intend to test another 700 at the facility that houses over 1,200 inmates.
Gautz said more tests are pending and other prisoners at the Michigan Correctional Facility will be tested. All told, the prison system has recorded over 4,200 positive tests and 69 deaths since March.
The state also reported three new deaths and determined that five prior ones were now attributable to COVID-19.
That brings the total deaths to 6,220. Total confirmed cases are now at 84,050.
Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 104 new cases, and Macomb County, which has seen a recent uptick in cases, reported another 91 cases. Oakland County recorded 83.
— Mike Wilkinson
Poll: Half of Michigan says their schools aren’t safe during COVID-19
Half of Michigan residents don’t believe it’s safe for children to return to in-person classroom learning in the coming weeks because of health concerns about the coronavirus, according to a statewide poll conducted by EPIC-MRA for Bridge Michigan.
The poll, conducted July 25-30, found 51 percent of respondents said they didn’t believe their local schools will be safe enough for parents to send their children back to classrooms, while 36 percent said schools would be safe to reopen; 13 percent didn’t know or declined to answer. — Ron French Read the full story >
Gov. Whitmer orders state police to enforce COVID executive orders
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is beefing up her coronavirus executive orders, requiring Michigan State Police to enforce them like any other law and ordering possible license revocations for violators.
Whitmer’s Tuesday executive directive comes as new coronavirus cases continued to climb since rules were relaxed in mid-June. As of Monday, the state had more than 83,000 confirmed cases, nearly 9,000 probable ones and more than 6,400 deaths. — Riley Beggin Read the full story >
Officials: S.E. Mich. high school parties drive COVID-19 spread
Six large gatherings in the South Lyon and Fenton areas in southeast Michigan have helped drive a jump in COVID-19 infections among teens in three counties, health officials said Tuesday.
Many of those affected said they attended high school graduation parties and prom-like events in July, prompting a joint message Tuesday from health leaders in Oakland, Livingston and Genesee counties. They urged parents and teens to consider the risks of large gatherings, and reminded them to wear masks and maintain social-distancing guidelines if they decide to attend.
In Oakland County, COVID-19 cases among 15- to 19-year-olds in the South Lyon area increased from three cases from late June to mid-July to 42 from mid-July to early August. Livingston County cases among the same age group jumped from three cases during late June to mid-July to 19; and in Genesee County, cases among teens climbed from 19 to 94.
Officials also asked residents who attended large gatherings in the South Lyon and Fenton area during mid- to late July to contact a health provider if they develop symptoms. — Robin Erb
Michigan, 5 other states collaborate to boost rapid testing
Michiganders may soon get access to faster COVID-19 testing.
Michigan and five other states will purchase 3 million Rapid Antigen Tests under a six-state bipartisan agreement, along with international philanthropy the Rockefeller Foundation, announced Tuesday.
Michigan, Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio and Virginia have signed a letter of intent with test manufacturers New Jersey-based Becton, Dickinson and Co. and California-based Quidel, to purchase 500,000 FDA-approved antigen tests per state. A type of diagnostic test, an antigen test searches for specific proteins on the surface of the virus, and delivers results in 15 to 20 minutes.
As economies continue to reopen and more Americans are tested regularly for COVID-19, Michiganders have reported waiting days, even a week or more, for test results.
Such delays can expose others to infections and stymie tracing and containment efforts. Labs have said they are being overwhelmed, forcing states and labs to compete against each other for test kits and supplies.
By collaborating, the states will be able to expand long-term testing in congregate settings such as schools, workplaces and nursing homes, according to the announcement from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office.
Over the last two weeks Michigan has averaged more than 28,000 tests a day, on pace for over 800,000 a month, well above the threshold considered necessary to spot outbreaks. — Robin Erb
Monday, Aug. 3
As cases mount, average age of victims continues to fall
Coronavirus cases continue to rise quickest in Macomb County, with 120 new infections reported there Monday, out of 604 new infections statewide.
The state reported six COVID-19 deaths Monday as well, bringing the total to 6,216. There have been 83,386 confirmed coronavirus infections.
The seven-day average daily case count stands at 697, up from 622 a week ago.
The age of those contracting the virus continues to fall. In early June, 16 percent of all infections were among people under 30 years old. Since then, 40 percent of cases are people under 30.
People ages 20-29 represent nearly a quarter of all cases in the last two months, up from 12 percent before June 5. And people under 20 make up 16 percent of infections in the last two months, up from 4 percent from March through June.
Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 92 new cases Monday and Oakland County reported 84. Kent County reported 32. — Mike Wilkinson
Sunday, Aug. 2
State Sen. Barrett tests positive for COVID; no new deaths
State Sen. Tom Barrett has tested positive for COVID-19, he announced Sunday, indicating he does not have any “significant symptoms” and will self-isolate according to medical protocols.
The Charlotte Republican is a member of the Michigan National Guard and said he was tested Friday during a routine screening required of all soldiers one week prior to departure for a training event.
"I have done my best to make contact with those I have been around in the past couple weeks so that they may also seek medical advice," Barrett said in a statement. “I look forward to resuming my normal work schedule as quickly as possible.”
Barrett is a fierce critic of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's pandemic response policies and the first Republican member of the Michigan Legislature to announce he has tested positive for COVID-19.
At least three Democratic lawmakers contracted the virus in March and April, including state Rep. Isaac Robinson, D-Detroit, who died of suspected COVID-19 complications.
The full Senate did not meet last week but Barrett attended two committee hearings. He is not expected back next week for what is expected to be an important week as legislative leaders and Whitmer attempt to negotiate final rules and regulations for school reopening plans.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, has said he hopes to finalize that legislation by Thursday, which is one of only two scheduled session days for the Senate this month.
"Our immediate focus is on notification to all senators and staff. We will evaluate the need for changes to the legislative calendar in the coming days,” Shirkey said in a Sunday evening statement.
Barrett’s test results on Sunday triggered a procedure the Senate had established "months ago," Shirkey said. Senators and staff were notified, and the Senate Business Office is providing appropriate information for follow-up and protocols, he said.
Barrett and Shirkey are leading proponents of an ongoing petition drive that would repeal a 1945 law Whitmer has used to extend a state of emergency without the Legislature's blessing. The emergency declaration has allowed Whitmer to issue more than 160 pandemic-related orders since March. — Jonathan Oosting
No new deaths, lowest case count in more than two weeks
Michigan public officials reported no new deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday and 426 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
It was the lowest case count reported since July 13, though weekends typically have had fewer reported cases and deaths; the state had reported 735 confirmed cases on Saturday.
Kent County reported the most new cases, 95, with Oakland County reporting 51.
Overall, the state has reported 82,782 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 6,206 deaths.
The positive test rate was 3.3 percent, still below the 5 percent threshold that public health experts at the World Health Organization suggest a region should remain under prior to reopening parts of the economy. Michigan has remained below 5 percent since May 30. — Mike Wilkinson
Saturday, Aug. 1
700 cases, seven deaths
For the third day in a row, Michigan health officials reported over 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 735 cases and seven deaths confirmed Saturday.
Michigan now has 82,356 confirmed cases and 6,206 deaths.
Over the past week, Oakland County recorded the most new cases, 893, followed by suburban Wayne County (excluding Detroit) with 852 cases and Macomb County with 775.
Michigan’s seven-day average hit 768, the highest since May 4.
Of the seven deaths added Saturday, four were attributed to earlier deaths where a subsequent review of records indicated it was a COVID-19 death.
Testing results showed that 3.4 percent of more than 33,600 tests were positive. — Mike Wilkinson
Friday, July 31
Whitmer vetoes GOP bill on nursing home COVID-19 guidelines
Facing criticism over her nursing home policies during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed a Republican bill that would have prohibited COVID-19 patients from being moved into nursing homes and established COVID-only facilities.
Rather, it is “based on the false premise that isolation units created within existing facilities are somehow insufficient to protect seniors—a claim unsupported by the data and refuted by the nation’s highest authorities on infectious disease,” she wrote.
“Instead of protecting seniors, this bill would require the state to create COVID-19-only facilities, forcing hospitals and many nursing homes to send COVID-19-positive patients to such facilities without any requirement for consent, doctor approval, or notification to the patient or their family.”
The bill would have banned nursing homes from taking COVID-positive patients unless they had recovered from the virus or the facility had a separate building in which to provide care for them.
Whitmer has been under fire from the Republican-led legislature for her handling of nursing home policy. About one-third of the state’s more than 6,000 deaths were among residents in long-term care.
Whitmer closed nursing homes to visitors on March 13, three days after Michigan confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19. A month later, with hospital capacity dwindling in metro Detroit, she signed an order that required nursing homes to accept “medically stable” patients previously hospitalized for COVID-19, so long as the facilities had set up isolation units and had access to adequate personal protection equipment, which was in short supply at the time. — Robin Erb
734 new cases, eight deaths
Coronavirus cases in Michigan continue to climb and are now at levels last seen in early May, with 734 new confirmed cases reported Friday, a day the state also reported eight confirmed deaths.
The new cases bring the seven-day average to 726, a level not seen since May 5 as the state was still under full lockdown and case counts were rapidly falling.
Macomb County in metro Detroit reported 130 new cases, the highest in the state, pushing that county’s seven-day average to 97, 64 percent higher than it had been two weeks earlier.
Oakland (115 cases) and suburban Wayne (98) had the next highest amount of cases. Kent County reported 50 new cases, but its seven-day average of 58 is below what it was two weeks ago (71).
Testing crested 31,000 for just the third time, with 3.5 percent of cases coming back positive. Public health experts have said the goal is to keep the positive rate below 5 percent.
Thursday, July 30
715 new cases, 19 deaths
Michigan reported 715 new coronavirus cases Thursday, driven largely by increases in metro Detroit. There were 19 deaths reported Thursday, 14 of which were the result of a review of earlier death records.
Wayne County, outside of Detroit, reported 166 new cases on Thursday, with another 69 in Detroit while Oakland (148) and Macomb (132) were the second- and third-highest counties.
In the last five days Wayne County has averaged 150 new cases, up from 85 cases the previous five days. Statewide, the seven-day average is at 706, up more than 100 cases from two weeks ago.
Hospital data indicate a small reduction in the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients, with 438 on Thursday, down from 452 on July 17. In early April, in contrast, nearly 4,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized statewide.
However, the number of confirmed and suspected COVID patients is rising, up to 727 on Thursday from 680 two weeks ago. The largest increase was reported in the Henry Ford Health System based in metro Detroit, which rose from 87 cases to 150 over those two weeks. — Mike Wilkinson
Hospitals lose $3.2 billion, report says
Michigan hospitals lost nearly $3.2 billion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.
The six-page report doesn’t break down the losses by hospital or health system, and it relies on self-reporting by the association’s member hospitals from March through mid-June.
Federal funding will help. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, Michigan hospitals received $2.1 billion in assistance, according to the report titled “Michigan’s Front Line of Defense.” Additionally, Medicare advanced some payments to hospitals, although those funds must be repaid by the end of 2020, according to the hospital association’s spokesperson, John Karasinski.
Still, the remaining $1.1 billion deficit is a “steep price” for hospitals’ efforts in treating the deadly virus, association CEO Brian Peters said in the report.
Hospitals across the state canceled and delayed medical procedures at the same time they faced unexpected expenses for staffing and personal protective equipment, contributing $2.7 billion to the losses, according to the report.
Another $440 million in emergency expenses added more red ink. On April 10, the peak of the surge, Michigan hospitals were caring for 4,700 COVID-19 patients — 1,700 of them in intensive care.
The report also predicted the remaining $1.1 billion deficit will continue to grow as Michigan’s newly unemployed lose health coverage and turn to hospitals for uncompensated care or are covered by Medicaid, which generally reimburses hospitals at a lower rate than employer-sponsored health care.
Wednesday, July 29
Michigan’s total confirmed cases of the coronavirus surpassed 80,000 Wednesday, with 996 new confirmed infections in the state, bringing the total to 80,172.
Not all new diagnoses occurred in the past 24 hours. Among Wednesday's newly reported cases, 300 were attributed to backlogged commercial lab results.
The added cases brings the seven-day average for new cases to 703 — the highest average since May 5.
Wayne County outside of Detroit had 231 new cases, Oakland County had 178, and both Macomb County and the city of Detroit had 109; 63 percent of all the newly reported cases Wednesday came from those 4 places.
Two new COVID-19 deaths were reported Wednesday, making a total of 6,172 deaths since the pandemic began in Michigan in March.
COVID-19 outbreak tied to Michigan church camp
About 40 employees and camp counselors contracted COVID-19 at a central Michigan church camp, health officials confirmed Wednesday to Bridge Magazine.
Roughly 30 of this group decided to ride out their two-week quarantine by remaining on site, which is now closed to campers, according to the medical director for the health department covering Gladwin County.
“The owners of the camp are being wonderful,” said Dr. Jennifer Morse, medical director of the Central Michigan District Public Health Department. “They’re caring for them, watching them, and we’re in contact with them numerous times a day.”
Gladwin health officials confirmed the outbreak at The Springs Ministries Camp. The camp had been held July 12-17 and July 19-23 and involved about 230 campers, according to news reports.
On its website, Springs Ministries said it has canceled the final two weeks of camp after a camper tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home during the first July camp week.
“We were informed on Wednesday July 22. Since then we have tested staff and have had many test positive as well,” according to the post.
That prompted testing among camp staff still on site. None of those tested have been severely ill, but some were “a little tired or had scratchy throats,” Morse said.
She said the confirmed cases were “very mild” and involved “teenagers and young adults” for the most part.
She said the camp owners notified all the campers’ families and shared email addresses with public health officials so they could begin contact tracing for campers who had since returned to their homes. Health officials have twice encouraged campers to be tested, and there have been some positive results among them. Still, campers are the “minority” of cases, she said.
Michiganders can enroll in COVID-19 vaccine trial
A Detroit-based hospital system is now enrolling volunteers in a study to test whether a vaccine developed by the Massachusetts-based biotech company, Moderna, is effective in preventing COVID-19.
The Henry Ford Health System is one of nearly 90 U.S. systems participating in the Moderna mRNA-1273 Coronavirus Efficacy (COVE) study, and it’s the only system in Michigan, according to the National Institutes of Health. Together, the network will enroll 30,000 volunteers in the randomized double-blind study to test the effectiveness of the two-dose vaccine against coronavirus.
While vaccines for viruses usually are made from a weakened or inactive virus, the Moderna vaccine is made from messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), a genetic code that instructs cells how to make protein. This “spike” protein, in turn, is part of the virus and is believed to trigger the body’s immune system, according to Moderna.
Earlier stages of the study have shown the vaccine to be safe and to produce antibodies. This third phase will determine whether it provides protection against COVID-19. Henry Ford is registering participtants who are over 18 who are not immune-compromised or pregnant or planning to become pregnant, Participants also may not have had COVID-19, nor received treatment for it.
Each participant will receive either the vaccine or placebo, a sterile saline solution, receiving the second dose about a month after the first. The participants will visit an enrollment site five more times and talk to study coordinators about 24 times over two years. They will be monitored for symptoms of COVID-19 and will be tested to determine whether they develop antibodies to protect them from the coronavirus. Any volunteer diagnosed with COVID-19 during their time in the study will be given “the highest level of care,” according to the announcement by Henry Ford.
Tuesday, July 28
There were 669 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Michigan Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the state since the pandemic struck the state to 79,176.
The seven-day average for new cases is now 639, up from 622 the previous two days.
The largest number of new cases today come from Wayne County, with 124. Macomb and Oakland counties followed, with 71 and 68 cases respectively. Among Tuesday’s newly reported cases, 9 percent (61 cases) were out-of-state visitors.
State officials reported 16 additional COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, but only five occurred in the past 24 hours. Eleven deaths were identified in a vital records review and reclassified as being related to the Coronavirus.
Since March, Michigan has suffered a total of 6,170 coronavirus-related deaths.
Monday, July 27
There were 488 new confirmed cases of coronavirus reported Monday, with the rolling seven-day average holding steady at 622.
The highest number of new cases were in Macomb County (92), Oakland (71), and Wayne (53).
Five additional COVID-19 deaths were reported Monday — marking a full month of 10 or fewer daily confirmed deaths.
In total since the pandemic struck Michigan in March, there have been 78,507 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 6,154 deaths.
Sunday, July 26
Michigan reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday and no new deaths, the result of a reporting backlog that caused test results over two days to be combined.
Michigan reported 437 cases Saturday, but several test results were delayed due to numerous technical issues, so that number was lower than the true count.
Instead, some tests taken Friday night and Saturday, which were not reported in time for Saturday's report, were included in Sunday's 1,041 new confirmed cases.
There were six new confirmed coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday, and none on Sunday.
The largest number of new cases this weekend were in Oakland County, (249 new cases), followed by Wayne (202), Kent (164), and Macomb (138).
Also, on Saturday, eight previous deaths were reclassified as being related to the coronavirus, while 16 other deaths were removed from the total death count.
The state said the decrease in the death total was due to manual data entry errors, in which some people who were originally classified as dead were in fact alive.
Since the pandemic began, Michigan has had 78,019 coronavirus cases and 6,149 deaths.
Friday, July 24
Whitmer extends executive order limiting visitors
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended an executive order Thursday limiting visitors into health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities and juvenile justice facilities.
The decision to extend the restriction comes as a disappointment to some; Limited visitation options in long-term care facilities present a challenge for Michigan residents who in some cases have been separated from family members since the pandemic began in March.
“This executive order protects more long-term care facility residents and staff, including the most vulnerable residents in our nursing homes,” Whitmer said in a news release. “I know seniors and their families are making sacrifices every day during this crisis, and moving forward, I will work closely with the Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force to protect our most vulnerable communities, the heroes on the front lines, and our families from this virus.”
The executive order also states that the Department of Health and Human Services is authorized to gradually re-open visitation as circumstances permit. The order is effective immediately and continues through Aug. 31.
State reports 594 new cases
Michigan reported 594 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths related to the pandemic Friday. This is the 27th consecutive day that new deaths have been 10 or less.
The seven-day average is now 577, a slight decrease from Thursday, and the lowest average in the past 10 days.
Macomb County had the largest number of new cases, with 102, followed by Wayne County with 86 and Oakland County with 66.
Since the pandemic hit Michigan in March, Michigan has had 76,541 cases and 6,151 deaths
Thursday, July 23
There were 699 new confirmed COVID-19 infections reported in Michigan Thursday, the highest number of new cases in Michigan since July 15. It is also the second-highest number of cases so far in July.
There have been 75,947 total confirmed cases of coronavirus in Michigan since the pandemic struck the state in March.
The seven-day average is now 586. It is the 13th consecutive day with seven-day averages that surpassed 500.
There was one death attributed to COVID-19, and six additional previous deaths identified as caused by the virus. In total, there have been 6,148 deaths from the virus in Michigan.
Wednesday, July 22
There were 523 new cases of coronavirus reported in Michigan Wednesday.
The seven-day average dipped to 579, the lowest the average has been since July 15, though still much higher than most of June. Since July 11, all seven-day averages have surpassed 500.
Additional daily deaths attributed to the coronavirus continue to be much lower than at the height of the pandemic in the state. The six deaths reported Wednesday mark the 14th consecutive day that death counts have been in single digits.
To date, there have been 75,248 total confirmed cases and 6,141 deaths in Michigan attributed to the coronavirus.
Tuesday, July 21
On Tuesday, 573 new confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported in Michigan. This is the eleventh time this month that new cases surpassed 500.
The seven-day average is at 631. This is a slight decrease in the upward trend of the seven-day averages for the past month.
There were five additional deaths attributed to COVID-19. An additional four previous deaths were determined to be caused by the virus.
To date, there have been 74,725 confirmed cases and 6,135 deaths from coronavirus in Michigan.
Michigan coronavirus resources:
- Michigan families can get food, cash, internet during coronavirus crisis
- Michigan coronavirus Q&A: Reader questions answered
- Here’s a map of where Michigan kids can get meals during school closure
- 10 ways to help Michigan hospital workers during coronavirus pandemic
- How to give blood in Michigan during the coronavirus crisis