Michigan’s COVID-19 numbers slowly trending in right direction, top health official says

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun says case rate, test positivity both showing improvements

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, speaks at a coronavirus news conference Dec. 1, 2020. (WDIV)

LANSING, Mich. – Two of the most common measures of COVID-19 spread in Michigan are showing the state is slowly starting to move in the right direction again, according to Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.

During Gov. Gretchen Whitmer briefing on Tuesday, Khaldun, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, provided an update on the statewide COVID-19 trends.

She said both the case rate and test positivity rate are slightly improving.

“Overall, our case rate is now at 608 cases per million people, and has been declining for the past week,” Khaldun said.

Michigan coronavirus data: Tracking case count, cases by county, deaths, cases by age, tests

All eight of the state’s geographical regions have seen a decline in cases over the past seven to 15 days, according to Khaldun.

But the numbers are still not where state officials would like them to be. Khaldun said case rates are above 500 cases per million people in every Michigan region, except for the Traverse City Region.

Test positivity is also on the decline over the past week, dropping from 14% on Nov. 16 to 13% to start December.

“But it is still obviously much higher than we would like it to be,” Khaldun said. “We’re cautiously optimistic, based on what we are seeing, (that) more people starting doing the right things toward the beginning of November.”

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The state is currently two weeks into a 21-day “pause” that tightened restrictions on several segments of the economy, including restaurants, schools and entertainment venues.

Khaldun believes the improvement in case and positivity rates is a result of people wearing masks, maintaining six feet of distance from others and avoiding gatherings.

“We will continue to watch these trends, as we have throughout the pandemic, and case rates and test positivity,” she said.

Khaldun noted she’s concerned that people might have gathered and traveled more during the Thanksgiving holiday, and it could result in another rise in cases.

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“We would not expect to see (that spike) for two to three weeks in our data,” Khaldun said. “If you did gather or travel during Thanksgiving, you should really make sure you’re trying to stay away from others as much as possible for 14 days after you traveled.”

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