GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — More than 13,000 people in Michigan have now died after contracting coronavirus, state health officials announced Thursday.
The milestone came as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recorded 176 more virus-related deaths, noting 138 of those were discovered as public health workers reviewed death certificates to find any that had not been promptly reported to the state.
It has been only 12 days since the state surpassed 12,000 deaths.
On Wednesday, labs in Michigan tested 44,310 samples for the virus and 4,077 were positive, a rate of 9.2%. The number of positive tests is not the same as the number of new cases because people may be tested more than once. Additionally, testing numbers are from a single calendar date, while the number of new cases lists the increase since the last time the state compiled the data; these two time frames do not match up precisely.
While Michigan has been seeing improving metrics for about a month, the decline in the case rate has plateaued and there has been an increase in the daily positivity rate. On Wednesday, the state’s leading epidemiologist said in a virtual briefing “we’re not going to see this continued decline” and that she was “expecting a rebound.”
The seven-day average rate of new cases per million people per day has leveled off since Christmas and the average testing positivity rate is now 9.6%, up from a low of just about 8% around Christmas. Public Health officials look for a rate below 3% to show community spread is controlled.
Hospitalizations continue to improve, and the rate of deaths each day has been getting better, too. Deaths are a lagging indicator; they rise and fall after a change in the case count.
It remains to be seen whether travel and gatherings around Christmas and New Year’s Eve will lead to a surge in cases. It can take two weeks for the data to show such an increase.
While the state on Wednesday announced it was opening up COVID-19 vaccinations to more groups of people, local health departments told News 8 Thursday they don’t have the doses on hand to facilitate that. They are urging patience. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called on the federal government to direct more doses to Michigan.
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