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4 key data points that show extent of COVID outbreak in Michigan right now

Coronavirus cases, deaths rising in Michigan

A coronavirus.
A coronavirus. (WDIV)

All of Michigan’s key coronavirus indicators are flashing red -- and it’s showing in the rise of cases and deaths in the state.

The state 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 current rise in cases makes the first peak in April look like a blip on the radar. Of course, the current spike of COVID cases in Michigan is not the same as April. There are huge differences. (Read more here)

While the outbreaks are different, they’re both very dangerous, especially to those with underlying health conditions. Here’s a look at some of the key data points we’ve been tracking for months -- and where they stand right now:

Surge in cases

Since Sept. 1, the state’s 7-day moving average for new daily cases has gone from 681 to 5,040 (as of Nov. 10). That’s the highest it has ever been. The 7-day average peaked in April around 1,500 cases. (Track this data here)

7-day moving average as of Nov. 10, 2020.
7-day moving average as of Nov. 10, 2020. (WDIV)

Most of the new COVID-19 outbreaks since Sept. 1 have been tied to college campuses, with big outbreaks at Michigan State University, Grand Valley State and the University of Michigan, resulting in targeted stay-home orders. Other outbreaks are piling up in long-term care facilities.

As we reported last month, the spike in new cases is not the same as April. The demographics have shifted a bit and testing is dramatically higher now than it was in April. The 20-29 age group leads for most cases.

But with more people infected, no matter the demographic, the higher the chance they infect someone who will experience severe illness or death.

Deaths catching up

Deaths are a lagging data point, as we saw with the first spike in April. While cases in April peaked around April 8, deaths in the state peaked around April 28, or into the first week of May.

Deaths dramatically dropped in the summer months, but since Sept. 1, the 7-day average for new deaths has increased from 14 to 46, as of Nov. 10. (Track this data here)

7-day moving death average as of Nov. 10, 2020.
7-day moving death average as of Nov. 10, 2020. (WDIV)

Overall, the state’s fatality rate has steadily dropped since peaking around 10% early in the pandemic -- it’s now down to 3.5%, as of Nov. 10. But the upward trend in daily deaths is concerning. As of Nov. 10, about 70% of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan have been people 70 and older, with about more than half of those above the age of 80.

Hospitalizations keep rising

One of the biggest indicators we’re always tracking in hospitalizations -- and it’s not looking good right now.

COVID-19 inpatients, including critical care and ventilator use, have been steadily rising now for about 4 weeks. Since Sept. 18, total inpatients have increased from 481 to 2,936. Patients in critical care has increased from 133 to 595. And patients on ventilators has increased from 64 to 257. (Track hospital data here)

Michigan hospital data as of Nov. 10, 2020.
Michigan hospital data as of Nov. 10, 2020. (WDIV)

These numbers mirror hospital data we saw in late April and early May, on the decline of the first peak. We’re still on the upward swing of this peak, by all indications.

We’re already seeing hospital systems tighten visitation rules or limiting elective surgeries as capacity becomes limited in some areas of the state.

Testing increase, but positive test rate up

Testing, testing, testing. We hear a lot about testing. There’s a theory that’s always floating around about how testing is the reason we are seeing more cases.

This is true. But it’s not the full story. In a best case scenario, you’d like to see an increase in testing, and a flat or declining positive test rate. (The higher volume should lower the percentage of positive tests). But that’s not what we’re seeing.

As of Nov. 10, the state’s 7-day positive test rate was 11.37% -- more than triple what it was one month ago (3.65%). The state also reported, on Nov. 9, 14.19% of tests returned positive for COVID-19. That’s the highest mark since April 22.

The big difference: About 43,000 tests were reported on Nov. 9, compared to about 8,000 tests on April 22.

So, right now, we’re seeing steady or increasing testing capacity, but the positive test rate is soaring.

Michigan testing data as of Nov. 10, 2020.
Michigan testing data as of Nov. 10, 2020. (MDHHS)

Overall, Michigan is 11th in testing rate (per one million), and has reported more than 5.4 million diagnostic tests completed, along with an additional 339,000 antibody tests. The U.S. is 19th in testing rate in the world.


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