What does Michigan’s ‘high risk’ for COVID-19 mean?

State moved from 'medium' to 'high' risk for COVID-19 outbreak in less than one week

Officials are reporting an uptick in coronavirus cases in Michigan.

DETROIT – A website that tracks the risk of COVID-19 spreading in each state has changed Michigan’s status from being in control of the spread to “at risk” of an active outbreak.

ORIGINAL STORY: Michigan now at ‘high risk’ for coronavirus outbreak, research shows

It’s important to understand that while the reported number of new positive tests for the state has been going up consistently, there’s much more nuance to interpreting the numbers in the context of whether there’s an ongoing community transmission.

The group of technologists, epidemiologists, health experts and public policy leaders at Covid Act Now used a number of different factors to calculate a risk for COVID-19 worsening in any given state. For Michigan, they’ve flagged our infection rate as high. Based on their calculations, that means any infected person will infect more than one other person. That’s important because it tells us that there is likely to be continued infection without something changing.

The website also flagged Michigan for suboptimal contact tracing. By their calculations, Michigan is currently only able to trace 48% of new coronavirus infections within two days.

RELATED: Explaining how contact tracing works to limit spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)

The state itself -- in partnership with the University of Michigan -- also analyses the risk level. Since mid-May, the overall risk had fallen -- particularly up north -- but by the end of June, the Lansing and Grand Rapid areas became concerning. As of the calculations done on July 4, the risk level for every region has gone up. Grand Rapids and Lansing are both listed as high risk, while Metro Detroit was increased to medium-high risk.

Looking at the big picture of cases in the state graphed by date of onset, you can see that the increase in cases actually goes as far back as June 22, when people who have tested positive reported their symptoms began.

The bottom line is that all the data from different sources is pointing to a steady increase in COVID-19 in Michigan, particularly in the west side of the state and the Lansing area, but the the numbers in Metro Detroit are also concerning.

READ MORE: COVID-19 in the US: Tracking states with the most cases

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.