Michigan has highest COVID infection rate in US, data shows

State reports significant rates of virus infection, daily new cases

A screenshot of Covid Act Now's map of the U.S. with states color-coded according to their "Covid Risk Level." Michigan is labeled as "at high risk" of a COVID outbreak, along with most other states, according to data. Photo courtesy of Covid Act Now's website. -- March 18, 2020 (Covid Act Now)

Michigan’s coronavirus infection rate is currently the worst in the country, according to recent data.

Coronavirus spread has begun to slow in much of the U.S. following a “third wave” of the virus. COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations surged again in November of 2020 and remained consistently high through the first of the year. Now, data from research group Covid Act Now shows that many states are in far better condition as of March 2021, including Michigan.

But some of Michigan’s virus metrics are still not in great shape, especially as the state is seeing a small spike in virus spread mid-March.

Since last summer, we’ve been following data from Covid Act Now -- a group of technologists, epidemiologists, health experts and public policy leaders that monitors and identifies each state’s risk level for a COVID-19 outbreak. Like the rest of the country, Michigan’s risk level has fluctuated throughout the pandemic as surging virus spread comes and goes in waves.

Since January of this year, Michigan has maintained a “high” risk level for a COVID-19 outbreak, according to Covid Act Now. As of March 18, 2021, most states are also considered at a high risk -- or even a “medium” risk level -- just months after majority of the country was labeled at “critical” or “severe” risk levels.

As conditions improve across parts of the country, Michigan now has the highest coronavirus infection rate of any state.

Michigan’s infection rate

As of March 18, Michigan has a COVID infection rate of 1.18, meaning that every person who becomes infected with the virus is spreading it to, on average, 1.18 people. The state’s infection rate is considered “high” by Covid Act Now.

Other states with the highest infection rates include Minnesota, Hawaii and Maine, who each have rates of 1.08, 1.07 and 1.05, respectively. Infection rates above 1.4 are considered “critical,” between 0.9 and 1.1 is considered “medium” and below 0.9 is considered “low.”

“On average, each person in Michigan with COVID is infecting 1.18 other people. As such, the total number of active cases in Michigan is growing at an unsustainable rate,” the report reads. “If this trend continues, the hospital system may become overloaded. Caution is warranted.”

While some states are much worse off than Michigan, with the nation’s highest infection rate comes a significant number of daily new coronavirus cases -- the fourth-highest in the U.S., in fact.

Michigan’s daily new COVID cases

Over the last week, the state of Michigan has reported an average of 23.7 daily new COVID-19 cases per day per every 100,000 residents, according to Covid Act Now. The state’s current numbers fall just below the “critical” label within this metric, instead labeled as “high.”

Over the last week, Michigan has averaged 2,367 new confirmed cases per day (23.7 for every 100,000 residents). -- March 18, 2021 (Covid Act Now)

Michigan has seen a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases over the last week, reporting its highest single-day case total since Jan. 8 on Wednesday, which was 3,164 new cases. The state’s 7-day moving average for daily cases on Wednesday was 2,073 -- also the highest it’s been since mid-January.

According to Covid Act Now, Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for the highest daily new COVID cases per 100,000 residents, coming behind:

  • #1 - New Jersey, with 41.0 daily new cases, per every 100,000 residents,
  • #2 - New York, with 35.4 daily new cases, per every 100,000 residents, and
  • #3 - Rhode Island, with 33.3 daily new cases, per every 100,000 residents.

Michigan’s positive virus test rate

Covid Act Now reports that Michigan’s current positive COVID-19 test rate is at 5 percent, meaning that the state’s testing “meets WHO minimums but needs to be further expanded to detect most new cases,” their report reads.

The group considers any positive test rates between 3 and 10 percent to be “medium,” between 10 and 20 percent to be “high” and between 20 and 40 percent to be “critical.” Michigan’s positive test rate was considered high in November and December of 2020, but has since the beginning of January 2021. Covid Act Now’s data sourced on March 18 shows that there has been a slight uptick in positive COVID test rates in Michigan since the end of February.

The group’s reporting nearly aligns with the state of Michigan’s reporting: COVID-19 testing in Michigan has been steady around 35,000 diagnostic tests reported per day on average, with the 7-day positive rate above 6% as of Wednesday.

Virus vaccinations in Michigan

Though the state’s virus metrics are still not great, Michigan officials have been ramping up efforts to vaccinate more and more residents each week.

As of Wednesday, March 17, the state is reporting that more than 3.2 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to Michigan residents so far. The state also reports that 25.6 percent of Michigan residents have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, and 14.3 percent of Michigan residents are fully vaccinated.

As of Thursday, all individuals who are aged 50 and up with medical conditions and/or disabilities, as well as caregiver family members and guardians age 16 and older of children who have special health care needs, are now eligible to receive a COVID vaccine. Starting Monday, March 22, Michigan regions can begin vaccinating all people who are aged 50 and up.

Michigan COVID-19 vaccinations: How to find appointments, info on phases

The city of Detroit is also now home to a regional mass vaccination site -- one of only 20 in the entire U.S. With the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Ford Field will now serve as a community vaccination site.

Beginning March 24, the site will be using the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention’s social vulnerability index to serve minority and economically disadvantaged communities and be open to anyone who meet’s the state’s vaccine eligibility.

More: Registration for COVID-19 vaccine at Ford Field now open -- How to register

You can see Covid Act Now’s data for each state by clicking here.

More: Coronavirus in Michigan: Here’s what to know March 18, 2021

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.