Khaldun: Models show Michigan could see up to 100 daily COVID-19 deaths ‘at rate we’re going'

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun says death rate could spike ‘if we don’t change our behaviors'

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive of MDHHS, at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Nov. 5, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive of MDHHS, at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Nov. 5, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s top doctor says if Michiganders don’t change their behavior, models show the state could see 100 COVID-19 deaths per day by the end of the year.

“We have models that estimate that at the rate we’re going -- if we don’t do anything else, if we don’t change our behaviors -- we could be seeing up to 100 deaths a day by the end of December," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Khaldun spoke about the state’s rising COVID-19 rates during a press briefing with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday.

READ: How COVID-19 is spreading in all 8 regions as Michigan’s statewide case rate soars

The state reported 4,101 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday afternoon -- the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic.

Now that case rates have been steadily rising for several weeks, Michigan has also seen an increase in deaths and hospitalizations.

When she spoke Thursday, Khaldun said the seven-day average for deaths is up to 19, which is twice what it was at the end of September.

Michigan COVID-19 numbers rising

Khaldun said the state’s case rate has risen to 261 cases per million people per day, which is more than five times the number of new daily cases than in early September.

A chart shared during Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Nov. 5, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing. (WDIV)

Some of that increase is due to testing, as Michigan performed 43,000 diagnostic tests per day over the last week. The positivity rate is increasing rapidly, though, and is now at 7.5%. That percentage has increased each of the last five weeks, Khaldun said.

Regional trends

The region with the highest case rate is the Upper Peninsula, which is reporting 509 cases per million people per day. Khaldun said the region’s case rate has been increasing for nine straight weeks.

In the Grand Rapids Region, officials are reporting 370 cases per million people per day. The Kalamazoo Region is reporting 331 cases per million people per day. Both regions have their highest test positivity rate, at over 9%, Khaldun said.

The Detroit, Saginaw, Lansing and Traverse City regions are all reporting more than 200 positive cases per million people per day, according to Khaldun. She said these four regions are all between 5.5% and 7.7% positivity.

The Jackson Region is seeing the lowest case rate at 193 cases per million people per day, as well as the lowest positivity rate, at 4.1%.

Hospitalizations

Hospitalization in the state has been increasing, and as of Wednesday (Nov. 4), more than 1,900 people statewide were in the hospital because of COVID-19. That’s nearly four times as many hospitalizations in the state as the end of August, Khaldun said.

Hospitalization numbers aren’t as alarming as they were in the spring, but they’re rapidly rising, she said. About 60% of those hospitalizations are outside of Southeast Michigan.

The seven-day average for deaths is up to 19, which is twice what it was at the end of September, according to Khaldun.

A chart shared during Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Nov. 5, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing. (WDIV)
A chart shared during Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Nov. 5, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing. (WDIV)

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Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.