DETROIT – Michigan has set new records in several days in the last two weeks, including on Tuesday, with a new daily one-day record for COVID-19 cases and the highest one-day death toll in several months. And it’s not even flu season yet.
The biggest difference in Michigan between April and November is that back then, we were reacting to spread that had already occurred. This time we have a good idea of what’s coming and medical experts know how we can slow it down. The numbers are clearly worsening, but we aren’t where we were in the spring -- at least not yet.
Looking at the case numbers for the entire state of Michigan, the increase is dramatic. The 7-day average of daily cases was 5,313 on Wednesday. A month ago, the average was 1,020.
Since the spring, Michigan has significantly increased our testing capacity and more younger people have been testing positive.
On Monday, the percentage of tests that were positive was 14%, significantly higher than it was a month ago when it was 3-4%. This change shows that the increasing case numbers are due to more spread, not because of more testing.
The trends in both hospitalizations and intensive care unit cases are a very helpful gauge for both the severity the state is experiencing and the strain that’s being placed on the healthcare system.
On Tuesday, there were 2,396 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and 595 in an ICU. That’s also up from a month ago when there were only 928 hospitalized and 218 in critical care.
Another major change is where the cases are rising. In spring, Metro Detroit was the state’s epicenter for COVID-19. In April, 83% of hospitalized patients were in southeast Michigan, but in November, Metro Detroit only has 43% of the hospitalized cases. There’s still time to act before the system is overwhelmed.
The bottom line is that specifically from the standpoint of severe COVID-19 cases, things are clearly getting worse across the state and in our region. In southeast Michigan, the number of hospitalized adults with COVID-19 has tripled in the last month. What precautions we are doing aren’t enough and we could find ourselves in a situation worse than the spring.
Michigan was one of the hardest hit states in the spring and other states could offer help, but right now, every state is experiencing growth and there is no capacity for help.
The easiest and most impactful way to slow the spread is to wear a mask, social-distance and frequent hand washing, but everyone needs to help.