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Michigan reports 206 new coronavirus deaths, highest daily total

A virus (WDIV)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Michigan officials reported 205 new deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, the state’s highest daily toll since the pandemic began, and a temporary hospital for patients opened in Detroit to ease the pressure on health care providers.

Not all of those deaths occurred in the last 24 hours. Some could have occurred days or weeks earlier but they were added to the official count after death certificates were matched to a registry of confirmed coronavirus cases, the state health department said.

THE LATEST

Hospitals in hard-hit southeastern Michigan have been expressing optimism about their caseloads, despite the spike in deaths. Henry Ford Health System and Beaumont Health said the number of coronavirus patients had dropped from earlier in the week.

Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan did not open a temporary hospital Friday as planned.

“It appears from current COVID-19 cases and modeling that the curve is significantly flattening,” university spokeswoman Mary Masson said. “We are in communication with state officials to coordinate and determine future need.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended her stay-at-home order for Michigan residents through April 30.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” Whitmer said on Twitter as she reported the new deaths, which raised Michigan’s total to 1,281. The number of confirmed cases increased by 1,279, or 6%, to 22,783 — the third most in the U.S.

At least 25 patients were expected to arrive at Detroit’s convention hall, TCF Center, from area hospitals. It’s equipped with 1,000 beds for people recovering from COVID-19, although that many beds might not be needed.

NURSING HOME DEATHS

In suburban Detroit, seven people at a nursing home have died from COVID-19 complications. Rivergate Terrace in Riverview said 21 residents tested positive and 11 remain in hospitals. Fifteen staff members also tested positive and were recovering at home.

Roughly 8% of the county’s coronavirus cases, excluding Detroit, have been at nursing homes, said Bill Nowling, a spokesman for the Wayne County executive.

Separately, Mayor Mike Duggan reported seven more deaths among Detroit nursing home residents, raising the city’s total to at least 18.

“Our most vulnerable citizens are dying in a helpless manner. ... We will test 1,200 people in the next seven or eight days in nursing homes and homeless shelters,” Duggan said.

HAZARD PAY

Detroit will start paying the equivalent of $800 per month as a hazard bonus to city employees who work face-to-face with the public, including police officers, firefighters and bus drivers, the mayor said.

About 27% of Michigan’s coronavirus cases and 25% of deaths were Detroit residents.

TESTING

The state health department expanded the priority testing list to people who are allowed to work in person under Whitmer’s stay-home measure. They must have symptoms. The state said labs running tests should give priority to all health care employees with symptoms as well as people in long-term facilities such as dorms, prisons and homeless shelters.

INSURANCE

The state said nearly all of Michigan’s health insurers with group or individual plans will waive copays, deductibles and coinsurance for coronavirus-related treatment. Many had previously done so for testing. Large employers are making their own decisions on COVID-19 treatment coverage.

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This story has been corrected to show the number of new deaths was 205, not 206, based on new data from the state.

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Eggert reported from Lansing.