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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Michigan has highest U.S. coronavirus death rate, ranks low in testing

Michigan has the highest death rate from coronavirus in the nation, and has conducted among the fewest tests per capita of states hit hardest by the pandemic.

With 95 new deaths reported Monday, Michigan has had 1,602 die from COVID-19.

But as a percentage of confirmed cases, deaths equal 6 percent of all confirmed cases, the highest rate in the nation. Even New York, with more than 10,000 deaths, has a lower death rate because it has tested three times as many people on a per-capita basis.


Overall, Michigan is third in the nation in terms of total deaths behind New York and New Jersey.  That’s well ahead of states with higher populations, including California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida and Ohio.

Only five states in the country have more deaths than Wayne County’s 760, which includes 395 in Detroit. 

Metro Detroit’s Oakland County (347) has more deaths than all but 13 states and Macomb County (240) more than all but 17 states.

One of the reasons Michigan’s 6 percent is high is likely tied to its relative lack of testing.

As of Sunday, the state had completed nearly 800 tests for every 100,000 people, a total of 79,437. 

Of the 10 states with high rates of infection and deaths, only California (just under 500 tests per 100,000) had fewer tests than Michigan.

New York had conducted over 460,000 tests as of Sunday, about 2,400 tests per 100,000 people, or nearly triple Michigan’s rate.


Michigan is set to dramatically ramp up coronavirus testing across the state, adding 13 sites. Those sites and enlisting a commercial lab in Grand Rapids will increase daily testing by 40 percent.

State and federal officials have said a more robust testing system must be in place before the “stay-home” restrictions are lifted so future outbreaks can be quickly identified.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Saturday that new drive-through testing sites will be added in some of the hardest hit areas, including Detroit and Flint.

Others will be added in Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Traverse City, Benton Harbor and Bad Axe. Another site will be opened in Atlanta, a small town between Gaylord and Alpena.

Much of northern, southwest and west Michigan have had relatively few tests on a per capita basis, but also fewer cases and deaths.


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