Michigan becomes the fourth state to surpass 5,000 coronavirus deaths


A visualization of the coronavirus. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • A visualization of the coronavirus.

Michigan topped 5,000 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, with 102 new fatalities reported in the past day.

The actual number of coronavirus patients who died in the past 24 hours was 59. The other 43 deaths came from a review of backlogged death certificates. Michigan’s death rate peaked in mid-April, when 148 people on average died per day.

Michigan is the fourth state to surpass 5,000 deaths. The others are New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

Over the past week, Michigan reported an average of 49 deaths per day. The state also recorded 435 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, pushing its total to 52,350. In the first week of April, Michigan averaged nearly 1,700 new cases a day.

The steady decline in new cases and deaths is bringing Michigan closer to reopening more of its economy, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.

“This shows that people in Michigan are doing their part and are taking this seriously,” Whitmer said at a news conference Monday, when she announced that bars, restaurants, and retail shops can reopen at 50% capacity on Friday in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

To reopen more of the economy, Whitmer said the state has to increase its testing capacity. Tests are critical to identifying outbreaks before they get too large. In the past week, the state averaged more than 17,000 tests a day, bringing it closer to its goal of 25,000 tests a day. The state averaged 5,700 tests a day in April.

Another promising sign is that fewer people are testing positive. So far this month, less than 10% of the tests came back positive, compared to 40% in early April.

However, for the first time in 36 days, the number of COVID-19 cases in the hospital increased, from 1,075 on Monday to 1,079 on Tuesday. That increase is insignificant, said Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“A one-day change in data is not statistically significant,” Sutfin tells Metro Times. “We continue to monitor case counts and trends.”

Over the past 36 days, the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital plummeted, from 3,636 to 1,079. During the same period, the number of COVID-19 patients on a ventilator has fallen from 1,441 to 351.

Although the coronavirus numbers are steadily declining, public health officials emphasize that social-distancing is still critical to avoid a second surge.

“This virus is still a threat no matter what area of the state you are in,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said Monday.

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