What you should know about COVID-19 in Michigan before Whitmer’s Tuesday briefing

Whitmer to provide COVID-19 update at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds COVID-19 briefing on Feb. 4, 2021

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is providing another update Tuesday on the state’s handling of COVID-19.

The briefing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Click here to watch it live.

Here’s what you should know about the COVID-19 situation in Michigan before Whitmer’s update.

Latest COVID-19 trends

On Thursday (Feb. 4), Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, reported positive updates on Michigan’s three most important COVID-19 metrics.

The state’s case rate was down to 159 cases per million population and had been declining steadily for 24 days, she said. The Detroit, Traverse City and Upper Peninsula regions all had case rates below 150 cases per million people.

Michigan’s test positivity was down to 4.9%, which was the lowest Michigan had seen since mid-October, Khaldun said.

Finally, 6.6% of the state’s hospital beds were filled with COVID-19 patients. Khaldun said that number is also on the decline.

Case update

Michigan officials reported 1,769 new COVID-19 cases and 11 additional deaths between Saturday and Monday, which marked the 14th straight case update with fewer than 2,000 average daily cases.

Overall, Michigan has confirmed 569,417 cases of COVID-19 and 14,905 virus-related deaths.

After spiking at nearly 10,000 cases and well over 100 deaths per day early in the MDHHS “pause,” the number of new cases and deaths has steadily declined.

Officials hope there won’t be another spike due to people gathering for Super Bowl parties over the weekend.

Restaurants reopen

It’s been over a week since restaurants were allowed to reopen for indoor dining.

The industry was limited to takeout and delivery for more than two months after the MDHHS first announced its pause in mid-November.

Right now, restaurants can welcome in customers up to 25% capacity, and indoor dining must end by 10 p.m.

Youth contact sports

The major announcement at last week’s briefing was the resumption of youth contact sports, which had been a hotly debated topic between the state and young athletes, coaches and parents.

MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel signed the amended order Thursday, allowing sports to resume with “consistent masking, team testing and other precautions,” she said.

MORE: Timeline, tournament dates for Michigan high school basketball, hockey, wrestling, cheer

“This includes ice hockey, basketball, wresting, soccer and more,” Hertel said.

For contact sports to resume, masks must be worn at all times during practices and competition. If masks can’t be worn during play, participants have to be regularly tested for COVID-19, consistent with MDHHS’s Testing and Additional Mitigation Measures for Athletic Practice and Play guidance. according to the state.

READ: Will Michigan shut down youth sports if COVID outbreaks threaten in-person learning?

Vaccine update

As of Thursday (Feb. 4), more than 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the state of Michigan, according to the governor.

The state had administered exactly 1,076,545 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of Feb. 3, she said.

“That number is going up as we speak,” Whitmer said. “Every shot in the arm is a step forward toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic once and for all.”

Michigan’s goal is still to vaccinate 70% of people ages 16 and up.

Variant still spreading

Michigan has confirmed 28 total cases of the COVID-19 B117 variant in Washtenaw and Wayne counties, according to state officials.

On Sunday, health officials announced they have identified a confirmed case of the variant in Kent County -- the first such case outside of Washtenaw and Wayne counties in the state.

“This variant is more easily spread from person to person,” Khaldun said. “If this variant becomes more common, as national experts predict it could, then we could see a very rapid rise in cases and more hospitalizations and deaths.”

Experts believe the approved COVID-19 vaccines are effective against this variant of the virus. They haven’t yet found any evidence that the B117 strand causes more serious cases of COVID-19.

But it’s more contagious, and Michigan officials are worried that an increase in cases will cause the state’s numbers to spike again.

“There will likely be more,” Khaldun said. “We’re working very closely with our local health departments to make sure we are aggressively identifying any potential outbreaks and slowing the spread of this variant as much as possible.”

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