DETROIT – By all accounts, the coronavirus outbreak in Michigan is improving.
In the last couple of weeks, major key data points have shown positive signs as the state prepares to move into the next phase of reopening.
Cases, deaths slowing
Growth in cases started to slow about three weeks ago, and has continued to plateau, while deaths are now starting to slow. Only 11 new deaths were reported on Sunday, the lowest since March. Zero new deaths were reported in Detroit.
Meanwhile, testing has more than doubled in recent weeks, and the positive rate continues to drop. In the last 10 days, Michigan has processed, on average, about 15,500 tests per day. The state is now 16th in testing rate, which is up from 24th just three weeks ago.
The positive test rate is now below 16 percent, down from nearly 40 percent in early April.
Hospitalizations show steady decline
Tracking data in the last month, hospitalizations, specifically critical care patients, have showed a steady decline.
As of May 15, only 5.68% of active COVID-19 cases were hospitalized in Michigan, down from nearly 18% on April 12.
So have we flattened the curve?
There is no exact measurement to answer this question. Different states and different countries have set different benchmarks and goals on handling hospital capacity.
In Michigan, flattening the curve will be defined by sustained declines in cases, and increases in hospital capacity. Gov. Whitmer’s 6-stage plan outlines, in Phase 4 (we’re in Phase 3):
Phase 4: Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are clearly declining
This phase occurs when the number of new cases and deaths has fallen for a period of time, but overall case levels are still high. When in the “improving” phase, most new outbreaks are quickly identified, traced, and contained due to robust testing infrastructure and rapid contact tracing.
Health system capacity can typically handle these new outbreaks, and therefore the case fatality rate does not rise above typical levels. Though a community might be in a declining phase, the overall number of infected individuals still indicate the need for distancing to stop transmission and move to the next phase.