More than 70 coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks recorded in Michigan in last week, health officials say

Most recent outbreaks associated with nursing homes, adult care facilities

Healthcare worker Rahaana Smith instructs passengers how to use a nasal swab, Friday, July 24, 2020, at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said in a press conference Tuesday that coronavirus (COVID-19) cases have recently plateaued in the state, but there is evidence of community spread.

As of Tuesday the state is reporting a total of 79,176 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,170 deaths -- an increase of 669 new cases since Monday.

Though case increases may have recently begun to plateau, the state has still been experiencing am uptick in daily COVID-19 case counts compared to June.

Dr. Khaldun said Tuesday that there have been more than 70 COVID-19 outbreaks in Michigan within the last week.

When health workers investigate a COVID-19 infection and determine that the infected person has then infected one or more of their close contacts, it is considered an outbreak, Khaldun said. Outbreaks can vary in size, but it is the process of one or more people contracting the virus from a location and then spreading it to their close contacts, who then have the potential to continue spreading it.

Dr. Khaldun said that of the recent outbreaks, 31 percent are associated with nursing homes and adult care facilities, 22 percent are associated with social gatherings, 10 percent are associated with workplaces and nine percent are associated with restaurants.

Officials say outbreaks have also been associated with childcare facilities, agricultural work settings, bars, personal care services and gyms.

On Tuesday Khaldun said that even with investigations and contact tracing, the health department is only able to identify the locations of 32 percent of COVID-19 outbreaks. Officials can’t be sure of where 68 percent of recent COVID-19 cases were exposed at.

Health officials are urging people to continue taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including wearing face masks, staying six feet apart from others and frequently washing hands.

Individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or are showing COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to get tested and self-quarantine until test results are received. To get tested for COVID-19, contact your primary care physician or find a free testing site in Michigan online here.

Khaldun said Tuesday that about only one-third of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are already quarantined by the time they are contacted by the health department.

Khaldun also said that contact tracing has posed challenges for the state as people don’t answer the phone when health departments call or withhold information about their close contacts. People are urged to answer their phone if a health department is contacting them, as it could be related to potential COVID-19 exposure.

The state has reportedly budgeted $10 million for local health departments to ramp up their contact tracing efforts, officials said Tuesday. A new text messaging platform is also reportedly underway to contact individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.