Morning Briefing March 9, 2021: Michigan confirms first case of South African COVID variant, school funding fuels hybrid learning debate, more

Here are this morning’s top stories

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that the first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.351 has been identified in a child in Jackson County.

First case of South African COVID variant

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that the first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.351 has been identified in a child in Jackson County.

The health department did not say how the boy was infected but a case investigation is underway to determine close contacts and if there are additional cases associated.

This new variant was originally detected in South Africa in October 2020 and shares some mutations with the B117 variant. The first case of the B117 variant -- originally detected in the United Kingdom -- was identified in Washtenaw County.

School funding fuels hybrid learning debate

From reporter Jason Colthorp:

Two pieces of legislation passed last week offering additional funding for Michigan schools that provide at least 20 hours of in-person learning.

The legislation has not yet been signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but one school district is now trying to decide if it’s worth to re-route its current learning plan.

The West Bloomfield School District is in hybrid learning and was planning to keep it until next year. But the potential loss of $1.2 million in additional funding forced the district’s Board of Education to discuss on Monday whether to increase in-person learning to 20 hours a week.

It is a position that Superintendent Gerald Hill did not appreciate.

Read more here.

Pandemic 1 year later: If you could go back, what would you tell yourself?

If you could go back a year, before the effects of the coronavirus pandemic swept into Michigan in March 2020, what would you tell yourself?

Take your time, think about it -- we want to share these responses, so please put some thought into it if you have a moment:

Related: Help us honor those we lost to COVID-19

Weather: Amazing stretch of sunny days continues

Here is the weather forecast for Detroit.

Coronavirus in Michigan 💉

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 598,014 as of Monday, including 15,670 deaths, state officials report.

Monday’s update includes a total of 1,960 new cases and four additional deaths over the past two days. On Saturday, the state reported 596,054 confirmed cases, including 15,666 deaths.

Testing has slowed in the last week, dropping to about 35,000 diagnostic tests reported per day on average, with the 7-day positive rate around 4.0% as of Saturday. Hospitalizations have plateaued over the last two weeks.

Michigan’s 7-day moving average for daily cases was 1,210 on Saturday -- slightly higher than last week. The 7-day death average was 27 on Saturday. The state’s fatality rate is 2.6%. The state also reports “active cases,” which were listed at 30,500 on Saturday -- near the lowest it’s been since October. More than 549,000 have recovered in Michigan.

Michigan has reported more than 2.6 million doses of the COVID-19 administered, as of Monday, with 20.9% total coverage in Michigan.

New: Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccine plan expands to 50+ with certain conditions: What to know

According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 29 million cases have been reported in the U.S., with more than 525,000 deaths reported from the virus.

Worldwide, more than 116.9 million people have been confirmed infected and more than 2.5 million have died. More than 66 million have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers are certainly much higher, because of limited testing, different ways nations count the dead and deliberate under-reporting by some governments.

Here’s a look at more of the data:

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