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COVID cases jump in one week in Michigan. Experts downplay mini surge

masks hanging up
COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Michigan, mirroring a small surge nationwide, but experts are downplaying its severity. (Bridge photo by Robin Erb)
  • Cases jumped in Michigan in the past week, but hospitalizations have yet to follow 
  • Deaths from COVID-19 also have decreased to some of the lowest points in the pandemic
  • Models predict cases will rise as temperatures cool but remain a fraction of the worst days of pandemic

Aug. 18: New COVID variant confirmed in Michigan. What to know about BA.2.86

As summer travel sends many across Michigan and the country, the number of new COVID-19 cases is rising quickly as well, mirroring a national uptick in the virus.

On Tuesday, Michigan health officials reported 1,864 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past week, more than double the 761 cases the previous week.


Nearly 620 of those cases were from before July and came from a dump of old results from a laboratory, officials said. 


However, that still meant a week-over-week increase of about 480 cases, or 64 percent, and that is a vast undercount because most people with COVID-19 don’t get confirmation through a laboratory test.

Experts urge caution, however, as hospitalizations remain low.  

“It has gone up a little bit, but not a tremendous amount,” said Dr. Matthew Sims, director of infectious disease research for Corewell Health in southeast Michigan.

Last week, the number of COVID-19 positive hospital patients rose 29 percent in Michigan to 169. Last year at this time, 991 statewide patients had COVID-19 and there were nearly 3,000 new weekly cases.

John Karasinski, a spokesperson for the Michigan Health & Hospital Association noted “the overall rates of hospitalizations continue to be at an all-time low since the beginning of the pandemic.”

In recent months, Sims said he has seen fewer COVID-19 patients and often none. But he and the hospital are starting to see a few more patients, admitting a few and helping them get better with different therapies that weren’t available during the worst of the pandemic.

The result of the therapies and the help provided by immunity from vaccinations and prior infections have dramatically lowered the number of COVID-19 deaths.

The state reported just five COVID-19 deaths in the past week, the fewest ever reported since March 2020. 

Between April 1 and July 15 of this year, there were 464 COVID-19 deaths, or about four a day. That would project to about 1,600 a year, compared to 13,017 in 2020, 15,007 in 2021 and 9,345 last year.

That steep drop in deaths is the result of fewer cases, improved immunity from vaccines and prior infections and better treatment for those who do contract the highly contagious disease.

“A lot of that is blunting the severity (of infections),” said Marisa Eisenberg, an associate professor of epidemiology and complex systems at the University of Michigan.

Eisenberg said the state has experienced its longest stretch of declining  cases, but researchers predict they have detected the “beginning burbles of an increase” as children return to school and cooling temperatures send people inside.

Still, she’s optimistic. “I’m hopeful that if we see an increase this fall it won’t be as severe.”

Those who come down with COVID-19 can, if caught early enough, take antiviral Paxlovid, which is taken orally and can blunt the symptoms and shorten the length of illness, Sims said. 

For patients who seek care after a longer bout with COVID-19, he said he has prescribed antiviral Remdesivir, administered intravenously, to improve breathing. 

“We’re certainly seeing those low levels (of deaths) due to those factors,” said Jimena Loveluck, health officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department.

The state reported just five COVID-19 deaths in the past week, the fewest ever since the pandemic began and just a third of the 14 deaths reported in the previous week.


But just 14 COVID-19 patients statewide are in intensive care units. In January, when just over 1,000 COVID-19 patients were being treated, there were 170 in ICUs.

The increases come as a new dominant subvariant of the omicron variant has emerged. Dubbed EG.5, it is now the most common variant circulating in the United States.

But just because it is new doesn’t mean it is worse that XBB and other variants, researchers have said.

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