Why the number of people ‘recovered’ from coronavirus in Michigan (COVID-19) seems so low

State of Michigan reports 56 people have recovered from COVID-19

DETROIT – Everyone wants to know the number of people who have recovered from the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan, but we’re finding out that answer isn’t easy to find.

Viewers have frequently asked why we aren’t 'sharing the number of Michiganders who have recovered from the virus. The problem is that was not a number the state was collecting data on and sharing.

That has now changed, but it’s raising a new question.

RELATED: Michigan now reporting coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery numbers

Currently, out of more than 20,000 coronavirus cases, the state only lists 56 people as having recovered. That might not sound right, but Dr. Frank McGeorge explains the devil is in the details.

When you read the full statement explaining the 56 recoveries on the state’s website, it says the number is only being reported once a week, and it’s from April 3. So there’s one issue. The numbers will jump every week, but more important to understand is that it’s not an actual count of the true number of people who have recovered.

The state’s number basically represents the number of cases in which the onset was 30 days prior, minus the deaths. It’s really only a very rough approximation because, especially in the beginning before testing ramped up, the number of identified cases was way below the number of actual cases.

Still, it will be good to see some estimate of recoveries in Michigan, even if it’s just a rough estimate. But that leads to a legitimate question: How long does it take to recover?

That partly depends on how sick someone becomes. If they are hospitalized on a ventilator, the recovery time can easily exceed a month. For someone with mild symptoms, recovery can happen in a week.

For purposes of determining when a person has recovered and is safe to return to normal public activity, experts use the guideline of three days beyond the last symptoms or fever, starting with a minimum of seven days from the onset of the illness.

So at a minimum, seven days from the onset plus three days without fever or symptoms equals a total of 10 days to be considered recovered.

For people who are hospitalized, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that they have two negative swab tests done at least 24 hours apart to confirm they’re free from the disease. Officials said they also recognize that a symptom-based criteria might be more appropriate when testing supplies are in high demand.

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