Michigan third in nation for coronavirus, last for data about patients

Thirty-three states release daily numbers about hospitalizations for the coronavirus. Michigan is not one of them. (Shutterstock)

April 7 update: Michigan Gov. Whitmer: I’m trying to be transparent about coronavirus data

Thirty-three states release daily numbers about hospitalizations for the coronavirus. Eighteen release data on patients who have recovered.

Other states release daily numbers of patients on ventilators, in intensive care units or cases involving nursing homes.

None of the information is available in Michigan, which has the third most deaths from the virus in the nation.

One day after Beaumont Health CEO John Fox went public with criticism of the state and other hospitals for failing to share information during the crisis, health experts and consumers on Monday told Bridge that Michigan needs to increase transparency during the outbreak.

For hospital executives, more information about patients and their conditions can help guide care and staffing. 

For residents like Inez Aultman of Zeeland, who has diabetes and high-blood pressure, the data would let her know if Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order is helping curb cases.

“I think Michiganders need the encouragement to keep going because it’s costing us big time,” she told Bridge.

“They need the encouragement that that sacrifice … is doing something.”

Michigan releases data daily on the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in each county, negative and positive test specimens and demographic data on gender, age, race and ethnicity. 

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said Michigan is one of a few states to release racial data on the disease and is working to be as “comprehensive and transparent as we possibly can.” 

But on metrics tracked by the COVID Tracking Project — which collects coronavirus data from state health departments on positive and negative cases, deaths, hospitalizations, ICU and ventilator patients and recovered cases — Michigan is on par with just six other states for providing the least amount of information, only case counts and deaths.

Some other states provide in-depth data on coronavirus cases. 

Minnesota shows exposure type, traffic patterns indicating social distancing success and hospital surge capacity. Florida shows case concentrations down to the ZIP code. California releases current hospitalizations and intensive care patient numbers.

Eight states report the number of patients treated in intensive care, while six list the number of patients that require a ventilator.

On the front lines in Michigan, the lack of reported data about health care workers getting sick and dying from COVID-19 requires hospital employees to scour social media for information, said Jamie Brown, a critical care nurse at Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo and president of the Michigan Nurses Association.

"The only reason we know is from the press right now," Brown said.

Likewise, although COVID-19 cases have been reported at 10-12 nursing homes, Michigan doesn’t compile information about outbreaks in facilities. Florida provides daily data on the total number of cases in senior homes. 

Mark Hornbeck, spokesperson for the Michigan AARP, told Bridge his group has tried to get information on cases in Michigan nursing homes to no avail.

“Data is important to help determine the depth of the problem in nursing homes across the state and inform policy about quarantine and visitation to long-term care facilities,” Hornbeck wrote in an email. 

Michigan health officials did not respond to requests for comment, but earlier have said they are limited by what county health departments and hospitals provide. 

Khaldun said on Monday that she hopes the state will start reporting recovery data this week. 

Those numbers can provide much-needed hope in a pandemic that has killed 727 in Michigan as of Monday, Whitmer has said.

“All of these numbers, I think, are stories that we could share and should share,” Whitmer said last week.

“We’re working really hard to make sure that we are transparent so that people have that accurate information with which to make decisions."

Michigan doesn’t release data about hospitalizations of coronavirus patients. Florida, in contrast, releases daily updates like this one above that break down demographic information and cases in several categories.

Is all knowledge power?

The call for more data comes as both the state and local communities grapple with what information to release.

Some counties have provided hospitalization data, including Macomb, Washtenaw and Genesee, but others do not. Washtenaw County reports “recovered,” but appears to be a rarity.

Oakland County, which has the second-highest case and death count in the state, has repeatedly changed how much information it provides. 

The county once released hospitalization data but stopped because officials felt it didn’t provide an accurate account of the situation. Instead, the county has released ZIP code-level case data because that’s what residents want to know, said William Mullan, spokesperson for county executive David Coulter.

“We think it’s essential to understanding the scope of the pandemic,” Mullan said. 

“We feel that knowledge is power in this instance and the more information we can get out there to our residents, to our business owners, to our leaders, the better decisions people can make.”

Harvard Law School bioethicist I. Glenn Cohen told Bridge governments should “release as much truthful information and in as much detail as you can” as long as it doesn’t induce panic or stigmatize a vulnerable group.

“Public health depends a lot on public trust,” Cohen told the New York Times in an earlier interview. 

“If the public feels as though they are being misled or misinformed their willingness to make sacrifices — in this case social distancing — is reduced.”

There is a danger, though, in too much data, said Dr. Brian Zikmund-Fisher, an associate professor of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan.

He said there’s “value to ensuring” hospitals and governments have up-to-date information on resources. But the public needs “clear takeaway messages” and raw data such as deaths can be overwhelming and lead to panic, he said.

“More information is not always better communication,” Zikmund-Fisher said.

Comprehensive and transparent?

Michigan releases data daily on the number of cases and deaths in each county, negative and positive test specimens and demographic data on gender, age, race and ethnicity. 

According to the COVID Tracking Project, which collects coronavirus data from state health departments, that’s on par with just six other states — all others provide other information on hospitalizations, ICU patients, patients on ventilators, recovered cases or more. 

On Monday, Khaldun said Michigan is one of a few states that have released racial data on the disease and is committed to transparency.

Michigan is working to be as “comprehensive and transparent as we possibly can,” Khaldun said.

Michigan for years has earned low grades for government transparency and openness from good-government groups.

In contrast, other states provide in-depth data on coronavirus cases. 

Minnesota shows exposure type, traffic patterns indicating social distancing success and hospital surge capacity. Florida shows case concentrations down to the ZIP code. California releases current hospitalizations and intensive care patient numbers.

Eight states report the number of patients treated in intensive care, while six list the number of patients that require a ventilator.

‘The more data, the better’

Ruthanne Sudderth, spokesperson for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association said there are challenges to releasing some data. 

There is no consensus, for instance, about a definition of “recovered” and if it means a second coronavirus test, that would put additional pressure on existing testing, which has struggled to keep up with demand.

“At the state level we would like to know that as well,” said Sudderth. “The more data the better.”

Fox, the CEO of Beaumont Health, said Sunday that there isn’t enough “accurate, real-time data” available to hospitals to make decisions on how to quickly treat an influx of “time sensitive” coronavirus cases. 

The state has a daily report on the number of beds and personal protective equipment (PPE) is available statewide, but it’s not representative. Only 58 percent of hospitals statewide are reporting PPE and 85 percent are reporting beds.

It’s up to the state to make sure that information is collected and reported. 

“Part of the role of governments is to pull us together in times of crisis when we need a coordinated response,” Fox said.

Bob Riney, president of health care operations and chief operating officer at Henry Ford Health System, raised a similar concern Monday. He said the metro Detroit hospital system has had to transfer patients to other facilities when its intensive care units were full.

“We're going to have to have the awareness, on a real-time basis, of what beds are available anywhere, and particularly what ICU beds," Riney said.

Riney noted that finding extra workers to treat patients will be even more important than finding beds. 

He said Henry Ford will ask hospitals from less-impacted regions of the state to send volunteer workers to Henry Ford hospitals.

The state has required hospitals to provide detailed data on COVID-19 patients but officials have said compliance has not been perfect.

For a public that can be skeptical about the government, health officials should release the data, said Aultman of Zeeland.

“We can’t be selective with the truth,” Aultman said. “We have to trust the citizenry.”

Bridge reporters Kelly House and Jonathan Oosting contributed to this report.

RESOURCES:

Michigan Health Watch is made possible by generous financial support from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Michigan Association of Health Plans, and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. The monthly mental health special report is made possible by generous financial support of the Ethel & James Flinn Foundation. Please visit the Michigan Health Watch 'About' page for more information.

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Comments

Joseph M Lenard...
Mon, 04/06/2020 - 9:05pm

And now it was announced many in Detroit Hospitals to receive HCL... AFTER HOW MANY DEAD IN MICHIGAN DUE TO WHITLESS' WAR ON HCL OUT OF #TDS?!?!? Including my Friend LISA EWALD (see: https://www.facebook.com/joseph.m.lenard/posts/10157835888304279)

#Whitless tried to Deflect Blame for her ineptnetude by trying to claim some companies are slow to deliver items to #Michigan, but a couple Reps (inc Annette Glenn) have called her out.... We won't hear anything more about it from Whitless cuz it was just LIES to allow idiots like Mitch Albom (his moronic Freep piece) and others in #eneMEDIA to DEFLECT and try to keep People from actually examining the dumb things she says/does.... #BlameTrump, #BlameEveryoneButHerNarrative

Prior to that... WHITLESS threatened to LOCK UP Doctors who used a Drug (#HydroxyChloroquine) she "don't like" to SAVE LIVES out of pure #TrumpDerangmentSyndrome!

For the Liberal Trolls: That drug has been around for DECADES to treat 3 other things - has NEVER killed anyone, EVER! But hey, stick with your DELUSION! Or are you one of those citing CNN misleading coverage of the guy who died cuz he took FISH TANK CLEANER with similar name (BUT NOT THE DRUG IN QUESTION) that CNN never gave the FACTS ON but purposefylly wants their clueless minion watchers (and #Whitless) to confuse with the Drug in order to disparage a GREAT, SAFE, TESTED, DRUG (that is clearly already saving Lives from #WuhanVirus), and (of course, for pure politics) Trump (cuz your #TDS and HATE for #Trump is greater than your concern for other #USCitizens (which is also why you support ILLEGALS over #USCitizens))!

plus, no doubt, soon she'll empty PRISONS in MI like other commiecrats across USA making us less safe while at same time trying to further restrict people from buying guns/ammo to defend themselves from the scourge they are letting loose! Pretending it is only NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS is another DUMBocrat DODGE - many did plea deals away from Violent and/or Gun charges and even in cases that is not true cuz they may not have been Violent last time doesn't mean they won't be THIS/NEXT TIME!!! People are even MORE CRAZY AND/OR DESPERATE with all the #eneMEDIA spreading never-ending PANIC AND PARANOIA and ignoring passing along any GOOD NEWS AND/OR HOPE (like Chloroquine is providing)!

more: Der Furhen Whitless: https://www.facebook.com/joseph.m.lenard/posts/10157808394774279

more on #HCL (recieves glowing reviews all around the World): https://themichiganstar.com/2020/04/05/doctors-rate-hydroxychloroquine-m...

JLK
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 2:39am

Wow. . . the misinformation you spew is truly something to behold.

Shirkey asked for the initial letter. "We needed something to prevent [chloroquine] from becoming the next toilet paper." (See the MetroTimes article discussing this situation and acknowledging that a "close reading" of the first advisory letter said just that Essentially "We want to save our supply for patients that rely upon it for approved uses.") Reminding doctors that they are not permitted to prescribe drugs for off label use (without going through some additional hurdles) and that their licenses may be at risk if they do so is not threatening to lock anyone up.

After the first letter was sent, the FDA updated possible uses for the emergency situation only. LARA then promptly updated its advisory notice. That's how the system works. . . for all drugs. And yes, now Michigan needs an additional supply because Henry Ford is lucky enough to be running an experiment to confirm or deny the effectiveness of these drugs for this particular use. It's rather hard to do that research without an actual supply of drugs for patients to take. And we want to make sure that all the patients with lupus, arthritis, etc. that also require these meds are still able to get them. This is truly not the scandal you want to twist it into. Yell at the FDA for taking its sweet time updating its terms. It's the only authority to make those calls in this country. For someone who have also taken every opportunity to whine about how everyone's made Trump a target unfairly, you're quite the hypocrite in doing the same darn thing with Whitmer. There are things that she deserves criticism for. This isn't one.

Peggy Sue
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 4:50pm

Look, if a single doctor was confused by the initial letter that Whitmer's people sent out and refused to administer a medication that may have helped someone and that someone died, then the blame falls on whomever published the letter. The letter should have been crystal clear in support in the TrumpCure+, but it wasn't- it was the opposite. I read the letter, and it appeared to encourage doctors to not employ this potential cure.

I'm a smart woman- to accuse me otherwise would be sexist- so it seems clear that Whitmer's actions may have potentially led to people dying in Michigan.

Theresa
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 8:10pm

Whitmer is the one with blood on her hands.

Trump U
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 1:24am

The only thing that will cure Trump is defeat in November.

Theresa
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 8:08pm

Perfectly said!

Joe
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 7:18am

Your spot on

Barry Visel
Mon, 04/06/2020 - 10:42pm

How can we know know how many people have gone to the hospital with covid 19 and have died, but we don’t know how many have gone to the hospital with coved 19 and have recovered? Sorry, but that defies common sense. So, how many recoveries have we had? Come on Bridge, do your job. Call the hospitals and report. We can’t depend on the State to do this.

Anonymous
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 1:21am

You might go to the hospital and be sent home to stay there until you get worse. That's not the same as recovering.

The article says, "There is no consensus, for instance, about a definition of 'recovered' and if it means a second coronavirus test, that would put additional pressure on existing testing, which has struggled to keep up with demand."

I really like the Washtenaw website, not because it shows the number recovered. That means nothing to me or anyone else, unless or until we can tell if those people have developed immunity. The problem from the beginning across the country has been a lack of accurate tests, especially fast tests. So we have never been able to do containment.

The Washtenaw website has great graphs which show clearly that our efforts have been paying off, cases and deaths have gone down dramatically there. I suspect the same is happening wherever people are and have been taking this seriously.

The evidence in Washtenaw confirms what is happening everywhere across the world. This isn't rocket science. Social distancing and shutdowns work fast when people take them seriously.

One has to wonder if all the volunteers offering restaurant lunches and homemade supplies to healthcare workers is making this worse. Those things may be contaminated. Observe the shutdown strictly and this could be gone quickly. It's ridiculous to keep trying to open businesses prematurely and causing us to stay in perpetual shutdown.

Karen Dunnam
Mon, 04/06/2020 - 11:02pm

Maybe while the lege is in session for Shirkey/Chatfield's bat$#!| crazy mini session this week, they could pass a law requiring health care agencies to report all COVID-19 data to the state.

LOL
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 4:04pm

But their supports are outside the protesting that government is nonessential! We just have to vote them out. Look at the first rant on this thread! Wow, bat$#!| crazy is the best way to describe it.

Talk to the Governor
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 4:17pm

The Governor could also easily make the hospitals do this with an executive order. But that would interfere with her Vice President audition.

Dc
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 12:15am

Mark horneck , the state is doing the best they can, join the front line and u will see, its easy to complain . But remember if u point at someone theres 3 pointing back at u. And for anyone who thinks the stay at home isnt working or has doubts, YOU KNOW WHATS RIGHT! Dont be stupid. STAY AT HOME!!

David Agnew
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 7:50am

Excuse me, Dr. Brian Zikmund-Fisher. I don't need you to protect me from panic by withholding critical data. By the way, we call that CENSORSHIP. ALL the data matters and should be publicly shared.

Kevin Grand
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 8:39am

Why is anyone surprised at the recovery numbers NOT being reported?

It doesn't fit the narrative that they are attempting to promote.

Ditto for the deaths.

Does anyone wonder why they only include the totals, but never contrast that to the total number of positive cases?

The rough math I've done on these numbers show them to hover around a 96% survival rate.

The answer to why Gov. Whitmer and the media doesn't want to report that should also be very obvious; It doesn't promote the narrative.

Fear is a powerful motivator. Keeping people scared makes it easier to keep them under control.

SoHo
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 11:21am

Accurate data on all aspects of case circumstances and results for Covid 19 in MI can only be coordinated, assembled, and disseminated state wide from the top down to all counties . The fact that this is NOT happening and is not accurately reported daily to all residents to give them the information they need, points directly to the mismanagement of the Governor and her staff. Other states are doing a great job. They should contact the experts in those other states, who are doing it properly, and learn from them if they can’t figure out what and how it needs to be done!

NoHo
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 1:33am

Accurate data on all aspects of case circumstances and results for Covid 19 in the USA can only be coordinated, assembled, and disseminated country wide from the top down to all states . The fact that this is NOT happening and is not accurately reported daily to all residents to give them the information they need, points directly to the mismanagement of the President and his staff. Other countries are doing a great job. They should contact the experts in those other countries, who are doing it properly, and learn from them if they can’t figure out what and how it needs to be done! I recommend starting with South Korea.

BTW Where is all the data and charts that the president shows on TV every evening, the modeling and the breakdown listed?

HiLo
Fri, 04/10/2020 - 12:35am

NoHo, here you go. I googled "Trump Data Coronavirus". This was one of the earlier hits- it is all of the data and charts from the March 31 White House Briefing. I think they post this information on the White House website after each daily briefing. Those daily briefings are usually on at 5:30. If you have missed any, they are easily available online. Here is the information you wanted-
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6823042-0331-Briefing-BIRX-Final...

Wait, was your point that this information was not readily and easily available?

Wayne Kulick
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 11:18am

Michigan is one of 3 states rated a D in data reporting by the COVID Tracking Project. I maintain a Michigan COVID-19 Tracking Dashboard I do voluntarily as I'm out of work and have nothing to do so I know the state MI data is. Their reporting method vis posting tables to a web page here https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98163_98173---,00.html is abysmal and they will not provide raw data to the public for some ingenious people to maybe discover some insights they've never seen. My dashboard (located here https://tinyurl.com/vhukn5w) has actual analysis of what the data means county by county.

But, as bad as they are with data, they seem to have time to continue to put out pretty flu brochures with in-depth data analysis but can't for COVID-19. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/MIFluFocus_1_5_06_146893_7.pdf

Inexcusable.

Wayne Kulick
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 11:21am

Whitmer says “We’re working really hard to make sure that we are transparent so that people have that accurate information with which to make decisions.”

Then provide the raw data for download by the public. THAT'S TRANSPARENCY. Don't do your own analysis and then present it as if you think the public is too dumb to understand or analyze data on their own.

Data Mining
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 4:14pm

Wayne, you mean the governor shouldn't present the data the way the president does every night? You know the prepared charts and graphs or when he shoos away Fauci and doesn't let him answer the science-based questions.

Amy Stabmenow
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 4:57pm

Just discovered Bridge Magazine, and have to say it's impressive. Just read the first paragraph- "Thirty-three states release daily numbers about hospitalizations for the coronavirus. Eighteen release data on patients who have recovered. Other states release daily numbers of patients on ventilators, in intensive care units or cases involving nursing homes. None of the information is available in Michigan, which has the third most deaths from the virus in the nation."

NONE OF THE INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE IN MICHIGAN.

Must be Trump's fault, or Engler, or Bush, or Nixon. Or maybe it's the Chief Executive for the State of Michigan who is too busy going on podcasts and printing tshirts to pass an executive order requiring this vital information.

People are dying out there, and instead of going on comedy shows perhaps she should be doing some real work.

Anonymous
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 5:56pm

Why did Trump silence Fauci when a journalist asked Fauci a question?

Bob
Tue, 04/07/2020 - 9:22pm

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Saturday that he has never been "muzzled" by the White House after reports said all government medical professionals would need to seek approval to speak to the media about the coronavirus.

The New York Times reported this week that Dr. Fauci "has told associates that the White House had instructed him not to say anything else without clearance."

"I’ve never been muzzled and I’ve been doing this since Reagan." Doctor Fauci responded. "That was a real misrepresentation of what happened."

George Clinton
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 6:21pm

Dang Bob- that was a brutal comeback. Actually quoting Fauci himself saying that he was being misrepresented, like that character was trying to do here- wow.

Joe
Wed, 04/08/2020 - 7:14am

Whitmer is an idiot that is over her head

Marrie
Fri, 04/10/2020 - 12:00am

Someone is mis-informed. I live in Michigan and since this all began we have received daily updates. Not sure where this information came from. Even though I am in West Michigan, first to be hit was South East Michigan, the Detroit Area, we were given updates. Recently have seen this not only on local news but National News. Please get the facts straight.