State confirms 2,800 more coronavirus cases over 2 days


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan confirmed 2,843 more cases of the coronavirus over the weekend as the state sees improvements in epidemic metrics.

Monday’s update from the state, which includes two days’ worth of data, brings the total number of cases in Michigan to 538,377 since the virus was first detected here in March 2020.

The state also recorded 20 more deaths linked to the virus over the two days. In all, 13,824 people in Michigan have died after contracting the virus.

On Saturday, labs in Michigan tested 34,220 samples for the virus and 2,106 were positive, a rate of 6.15%. On Sunday, 30,560 samples were tested and 1,958, or 6.41%, were positive.

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.

The state on Monday added nine more institutions to its list of outbreaks related to K-12 schools, colleges and universities. In all, the state is watching 60 outbreaks linked to educational settings. The largest new outbreak at a K-12 school is at Hastings High School, where 10 students have contacted the virus. In general, outbreaks at K-12 schools have been small, usually fewer than 20 people. It’s colleges and universities that are seeing numbers in the hundreds or thousands.

Over the weekend, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced it had confirmed Michigan’s first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, which was originally identified in the United Kingdom and is more transmissible. The variant has also been found in a few other states.

“The discovery of this variant in Michigan is concerning, but not unexpected,” Michigan’s chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in a Saturday statement. “We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic as quickly as possible. We continue to urge Michiganders to follow a research-based approach by wearing their masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often, and making a plan to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it is their turn.”

While the B.1.1.7 patient in Michigan is from the southeast side of the state, health officials in West Michigan say it’s only a matter of time before the variant is identified in this region.

“I think most of us probably feel like it’s been here already,” Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Dr. Andrew Jameson told News 8 Sunday. “When you start seeing it in the community, from a particular test, you know that it’s been circulating for some time.”

The good news, he said, is that the state appears to have avoided a significant surge following the December holidays.

While the state’s case rate rebounded slightly and then plateaued after Christmas, it now appears t to be trending down again.

The state’s average rate of positive tests has dropped 8% for the first time since late October, but it is still much higher than the 3% threshold that public health officials look for to demonstrated community spread is controlled.

Hospitalizations also continue to decline, as do the number of deaths each day — though the rate of improvement has slowed recently.

The state announced Monday it will hold a series of town halls on getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The first one will be held Thursday at 4 p.m. and will stream on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Facebook page.

The town halls will reach out to different groups; the first one is focusing specifically on faith-based organizations. Dr. Khaldun will be joined by Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy and a doctor from Detroit Receiving Hospital.

Future events will reach out to racial minority groups.

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