GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan authorities report 64 people have died of COVID-19 Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 481.
The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department said two more people died from the virus as of Saturday morning. They told News 8 both people had underlying medical conditions. There are now three confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the county, authorities said.
The total number of cases confirmed statewide rose by just short of 2,000 to 12,744, according to data released Friday. That’s Michigan’s largest single-day increase in confirmed cases so far. However, the daily increase in deaths was lower than the day prior. The state releases updated totals each day at 3 p.m.
The highest numbers for both cases and deaths are in southeast Michigan. Wayne County, including the city of Detroit, has 6,096 confirmed cases and 223 deaths; Oakland County has 2,540 cases and 136 deaths and Macomb County 1,560 cases and 65 deaths. Washtenaw County has recorded 477 cases and eight deaths. Genesee County has 422 cases and 11 deaths.
Michigan officials say Detroit-area hospitals are at or nearing capacity. On Friday, Spectrum Health said Butterworth and Blodgett hospitals in metro Grand Rapids would take some COVID-19 patients from southeast Michigan hospitals to help carry the load. Spectrum Health said it may need reciprocal help when cases start to decline in southeast Michigan and surge in West Michigan.
Models are projecting the state’s outbreak won’t peak until late April or early May.
Calhoun County recorded its first death and added six more confirmed cases for a total of 31. Muskegon County on Friday announced its third death, saying the patient was a 64-year-old woman. That death was not yet included in the state numbers; it will be reflected in Saturday’s update. As of Thursday, the county had a total of 30 cases.
The Michigan Department of Corrections also reported its first death linked to the virus. Twenty-one new cases were confirmed within the prison system for a total of 187.
Kent County added 11 new cases Thursday for a total of 136. Two people in the county have died. Berrien County added 12 more cases for a total of 52, Kalamazoo County six more for a total of 40 and Ottawa County six more for a total of 37.
The dead range in age from 20 to 107, with an average age of about 72. Sixty-one percent of those killed by the virus were men and 39% women. While people over 80 make up only 8% of total patients, they account for 35% of the dead.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says its lab, plus hospital and commercial labs, have run nearly 38,000 samples for coronavirus. About 28,000 came back negative and 9,779 were positive. The number of tests run doesn’t equal the number of patients because some patients were tested twice and some tests were run out of state.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Michigan currently has the third highest number of confirmed cases in the country, behind New York and New Jersey. New York and New Jersey are the only states that have recorded more deaths linked to the virus. Nationwide, more than 6,600 people have died of the virus.
COVID-19 presents with a fever, cough and shortness of breath. For most who contract it, symptoms are mild. Though anyone can get it and anyone can develop a serious case, the people most at risk to develop severe complications are the elderly and those with preexisting health problems. If you think you have coronavirus, quarantine yourself and your entire household. Unless you are in need of emergency help, like if you can’t breathe, do not go to the emergency room. Get advice from a doctor over the phone or a televisit and they will direct you on how to move forward.
WORKERS WHO STAY HOME SICK PROTECTED
On Friday morning, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed another executive order linked to coronavirus, this one designed to protect workers who stay at home if they have it.
The order says that anyone who stays home from work after testing positive for COVID-19, being in closed contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or showing symptoms of COVID-19 cannot be fired, disciplined or otherwise retaliated against by their employer.
It also declares a state policy that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, shows symptoms, or who lives with someone who tests positive or shows symptoms should not leave home unless absolutely necessary.
“People who are prioritizing the health and safety of their families, neighbors, and loved ones during this crisis should not be punished by their workplace,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Staying home and staying safe is one of the most important things we can do to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, and this executive order will ensure more people can do so without facing discrimination from their workplace.”
The order will remain in effect until the expiration of the state of emergency that Whitmer declared March 10.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also clarified Friday that employers should let employees know when one of their co-workers has tested positive for COVID-19.
The governor has ordered all Michigan residents to stay at home unless they must leave for an essential errand, like grocery shopping, or unless they are an essential service worker. Bars and a slew of other businesses have been shut down, and restaurants can offer only drive-thru, carry-out or delivery.
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On Thursday, Whitmer told K-12 schools to stay closed for the remainder of the year, though they will offer distance learning. On Friday, the Michigan High School Athletic Association followed suit with the governor and called off the rest of the winter and spring sports seasons, which had already been suspended due to coronavirus.
In addition to social distancing, you should follow basic health practices, like washing your hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and warm water, coughing into your arm or a tissue rather than your hands and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands.
The goal of all these measures is to keep the number of severe cases low enough that hospitals will be able to treat everyone properly. In places like Italy, Spain and New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, hospital systems have been stretched beyond capacity.
Google, which has apps that track users’ movement, says that its data shows Michigan residents are changing their habits because of the coronavirus. Visits to retail and recreation spots are down 58% from the state’s baseline, visits to transit stations have dropped 55%, workplaces 43% and grocery stores 28%. The only places we seem to be going more often are parks, up 15%.
Unacast, another company that tracks mobility based on GPS data, also found a decrease in movement among Michigan residents.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story listed the combined number of cases between the city of Detroit and the rest of Wayne County as 9,096 cases, instead of 6,096 cases. We apologize for the error.