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Despite brutal day, signs of hope in Michigan’s coronavirus curve

Coronavirus cases may be leveling in Detroit, and despite a sharp uptick in overall cases statewide Tuesday, there are signs Michigan may avoid the skyrocketing caseloads of Italy and New York.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan expressed optimism for the first time in days Tuesday when the number of new cases in the city fell for the second consecutive day. Detroit is a national hotspot for the virus, with more than 5,500 cases and at least 222 deaths.

“This is the first glimmer of light we have seen in the data since this pandemic started,” Duggan said. 

“The storm is not over. But for the first time, we can see we can beat this. And we can beat it in weeks, not months.”


Even so, state data indicate the virus is gaining strength in less-populated areas outside of southeast Michigan, including Genesee County where cases hit 638 and deaths 32, and in St. Clair, Clinton and Hillsdale counties.

Statewide, confirmed cases rose nearly 1,750 to 18,970 on Tuesday, while the 118 reported deaths were the most in a single day of the pandemic for Michigan. Overall, 845 have died statewide.

Metro Detroit accounts for 80 percent of Michigan’s cases and deaths, and if cases plateau, the state could hit its peak later this week, matching a model created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. 

State officials, as well as the Trump administration, have used this model to estimate trends.


That model based its predictions on Michigan’s demography, actual deaths and steps to slow the spread of the virus, including stay-at-home order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on March 24.

Even if the state hits its peak on April 10, however, the University of Washington model estimates Michigan deaths could hit 3,000 before the end of May.

We are still in the early upslope of what is going to hit Michigan incredibly hard,” Whitmer said. “This novel virus has no cure and it has no vaccine. it is aggressively passed from person to person and no one knows how their body is going to react to it.”

The virus has hit other places even harder, including New York and Italy and it continues to ravage parts of Europe and grow across the globe.


Compared to the growth rates of New York, Italy and France, Michigan is trending well below New York but between Italy (17,127 deaths) and France (10,328). 

That’s not to say Michigan deaths will approach either nation, both which have six times as many residents.

Like Michigan, much of Europe is on “stay-at-home” orders and Duggan attributes those efforts to “bending the curve.” 

“We are at a time where I think we may be bending the curve, but, we are at a very dangerous time if we don’t stick with what we are doing,” Duggan said.

He warned against complacency and worried that warmer weather could halt progress and cases could multiply.

“We have some really bad days ahead of us. We are going to lose a lot of our neighbors in the coming days,” Duggan said. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”


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