Coronavirus makes an unwelcome comeback in Michigan after two months of significant progress


Michigan residents are required to wear masks in stores. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Michigan residents are required to wear masks in stores.

The number of new coronavirus cases in Michigan rose for the fifth straight day on Thursday, reaching the highest single-day level since late May.

The state reported 353 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to nearly 69,000. On Wednesday, the number of new cases rose above 300 for the first time since June 3.

The upward trend follows a two-month decline in COVID-19 cases, which allowed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to lift many of the state’s social-distancing restrictions.


For the first time since April 14, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals rose for two straight days to 346. That’s still far below the nearly 4,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations in mid-April, when the pandemic peaked in Michigan and overwhelmed hospitals. In early April, the state was averaging nearly 1,500 new cases a day.

The uptick comes as more people return to work and gather at bars, restaurants, parks, and homes, often without masks in defiance of the governor's order, though there is no penalty for not wearing a mask. It's not unusual to walk into a grocery store or pharmacy and see people without masks.

On Wednesday night, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals made a last-minute ruling to prevent gyms and fitness centers from reopening Thursday morning. A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously delayed a lower court’s ruling that allowed indoor fitness centers to reopen against Whitmer's order. Despite the ruling, some gyms opened.

"We empathize with business owners and understand that many people are anxious to return to their normal exercise routines, but the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision accurately takes into consideration the risk involved in reopening gymnasiums and fitness centers too soon," Ryan Jarvi, spokesman for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel tells Metro Times. "Michigan has come a long way in flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases, and the rising infection rates seen right now in other states is an alarming reminder of what could happen here if we act on impulse instead of science and the advice provided by medical experts. Under the Court’s decision, gymnasiums should remain closed. Facilities that remain open may be subject to misdemeanor penalties. We trust our partners in law enforcement throughout the state to make those gym owners in violation aware of the required closure and to use their discretion and authority in dealing with any violations that are reported."

Mayor Mike Duggan on Thursday threatened to shut down bars and restaurants in Detroit that fail to enforce capacity limits or requirements for employees to wear masks.

"We saw a few incidences last weekend that were far too concerning," Duggan said at a news conference.

Duggan said he's worried that a few noncompliant businesses could "spark a burst of COVID in this community, and we can't have that happen."

The state’s death toll reached 6,133 on Thursday, with fatalities rising in the single digits each day. The death rate likely won’t rise for another week or two.

Coronavirus cases are surging in at least 29 states, prompting some officials to pause re-openings.

On Thursday, Whitmer signed an executive order allowing professional sports to resume without a live audience. Major League Baseball recently announced a shortened 60-game season that will begin on July 24.

“We are now ready to gradually and safely allow professional sports to resume in Michigan,” Whitmer said in a news release. “While this is an encouraging step in the reopening of our economy, it is critical for athletes to continue social distancing and taking precautions to stay safe. We want to keep our momentum going and keep moving forward, so it’s incumbent on everyone doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

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