Michigan’s coronavirus spread is now the worst in the country as of Friday, as the state’s daily case counts and infection rate continue to rise, according to recent data.
Over the last several weeks, Michigan has seen COVID-19 spread more rapidly, causing virus cases and hospitalizations to surge once again. In mid-March, Michigan had the highest COVID infection rate in the U.S., according to data from Covid Act Now -- now the state is leading the nation in daily new coronavirus cases, virus infection and positive virus test rates.
As of Friday, April 2, the state of Michigan has been labeled at a “very high” risk level for a COVID-19 outbreak by 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. Our last report on March 18 showed the state at a “high” risk level.
Most states in the country are either categorized at high or “medium” risk for a COVID-19 outbreak, as of Friday. Michigan is one of only 11 states that are experiencing a more significant increase in coronavirus spread, including New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Let’s dive into the specific Michigan data.
Michigan’s daily new COVID cases
The number of new COVID cases being reported in Michigan each day is currently the highest in the nation, according to Covid Act Now.
Over the last week, the state has reported an average of 56.7 daily new virus cases per every 100,000 residents, the data shows. In our last report on March 18, the state was reporting an average of 23.7 daily new cases per day per every 100,000 residents.
The research group identifies the rate of the state’s daily new infections as “critical.”
Covid Act Now’s data largely aligns with the data reported by the state of Michigan: According to data received by the state, Michigan has reported an average of 5,061 new COVID-19 cases each day over the last week -- the highest average seen in the state since December. That average has been steadily increasing since reaching a low point in mid-February.
On Thursday, the state reported a total of 6,036 new virus cases since the day before -- only the second time there has been 6,000 or more daily new cases this year.
Michigan’s daily new COVID case rate is the highest in the U.S., with New Jersey, New York and Connecticut not far behind, reporting an average of 49.7, 41.6 and 35.5 daily new cases per every 100,00 residents, respectively.
Michigan’s infection rate
With the highest number of daily new COVID-19 cases in the nation, it should come as no surprise that Michigan’s coronavirus infection rate is also the highest in the U.S.
According to Covid Act Now, as of April 2, Michigan has an infection rate of 1.29 -- meaning that every person who becomes infected with COVID-19 is, on average, infecting 1.29 other people. The state’s infection rate is currently considered “high” by Covid Act Now, but is nearing the “critical” level.
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 1.29 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.”
Other states with the highest infection rates include North Dakota, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, who each have rates of 1.18, 1.16 and 1.15, respectively.
Michigan’s positive virus test rate
Of course, an increased number of cases and infections correlates with higher positive COVID test rates -- and, once again, Michigan’s is the highest in the nation.
As of April 2, Covid Act Now reports that Michigan’s positive test rate is 11.9 percent, which indicates that “testing in Michigan is limited and that most cases may go undetected,” the report reads. According to data received by the state, Michigan’s positive test rate may actually be a bit higher: Over the last week, the state’s positive test rate has averaged 13.56 percent, the data shows.
Regardless, the percentage of positive COVID tests in Michigan is much higher than hoped for. State health officials have previously pushed for a positive test rate of 3 percent or less, and Covid Act Now concurs, labeling test rates below 3 percent as “low.”
As of Friday, Michigan’s positive test rate is considered “high.” A positive test rate above 20 percent is considered “critical,” and the state hasn’t seen those numbers since the onset of the pandemic one year ago.
Other states with the highest positive COVID test rates are: South Dakota with 10.3 percent, New Jersey with 9.8 percent, Pennsylvania with 8.3 percent and Florida with 7.6 percent.
Michigan COVID hospitalizations rising among younger groups
Coronavirus-related hospitalizations have been on the rise in Michigan amid the surge in virus spread, but hospitals are not likely to be overwhelmed by COVID patients at this time, according to Covid Act Now.
The research group’s data shows that about 77 percent of Michigan’s available ICU beds are currently in use, suggesting that there is “some ability to absorb an increase in COVID cases,” the report reads.
There has been a notable shift in the state’s virus hospitalizations, however: In recent weeks, hospitalizations have been driven by younger populations.
According to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, hospitalizations increased by 633 percent for adults ages 30-39 and by 800 percent for adults ages 40-49 between March 1 and March 23.
The shift in hospitalized age groups in Michigan is likely related to the distribution of coronavirus vaccines, as older, more vulnerable populations were initially prioritized. Still, health experts are concerned with the increasing number of middle-aged Michigan adults being hospitalized with severe COVID-19.
Vaccines the “answer” to virus surge in Michigan
Alongside the rise in virus spread has come a rise in COVID-19 vaccinations in Michigan -- which state officials are saying is the answer to the state’s increasing virus cases.
As of Friday, April 2, the state of Michigan has administered more than 4.4 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, with about with 34.5 percent of residents having received at least one dose.
Vaccine eligibility criteria has constantly expanded across the state and within individual regions. Beginning next week, all Michiganders above the age of 16 will be eligible to schedule a COVID vaccination appointment.
As more residents become eligible to get vaccinated against the virus, state officials are relying on the protection afforded by the vaccine to help slow coronavirus spread in Michigan.
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Earlier this week, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said that the state is relying on continuous mask wearing and more vaccinations to combat rising COVID cases, instead of instituting more restrictions.
After seeing a steady decline in cases for the better part of two months in December and January, Michigan officials re-engaged several segments of the economy in February, such as restaurants, entertainment venues and youth sports.
Since then, the state’s COVID-19 metrics have swung in the opposite direction, with case, hospitalization and death rates rising. Each of the last seven days have seen more than 4,000 new cases in Michigan, and three single-day totals over 5,000 have been reported in that span.
The last time Michigan saw a COVID-19 spike of this magnitude -- in October and November -- the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a pause that shut down indoor dining, gatherings and much more for more than two months. This time around, Whitmer instead said the focus will remain on mask wearing and vaccinations, setting a goal to vaccinate 100,000 Michigan residents each day.
You can see Covid Act Now’s data for each state by clicking here.