May 26, 2022


Incredible Health

Michigan coronavirus unemployment, map, curve, COVID-19 updates

76 min read

Table of Contents

Saturday, Sept. 26

Three straight days of 900 infections, the first time since April

For the first time since late April, Michigan public health officials reported more than 900 new coronavirus infections for three straight days, just a day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer relaxed some rules and strengthened others.

The state reported 901 confirmed cases Saturday, bringing the total to 121,427 confirmed cases total. There are another 12,946 probable cases.

But the higher case counts have not, at least in the last few weeks, triggered higher rates of hospitalizations and the state’s robust testing — averaging over 39,000 tests a day, at well more than double the one-time goal of 150 tests for every 100,000 residents a day — is returning positive tests less than 3 percent of the time, a good sign. The positive percentage rate was listed as 2.9 percent Saturday.

On Friday, Whitmer announced that movie theaters, concert venues, bowling alleys and other retailers could open soon, citing the positive news from the state’s case, hospitalization and testing data. At the same time, she toughened school regulations by requiring all elementary school students wear masks.

One of the reasons for the lower numbers of hospitalized patients is the age of many who are getting infected: Since Sept. 1, over half of all new infections are under 30; before Sept. 1, they comprised just over a quarter of all cases. Younger people have proven more resilient to the disease, though public health authorities warn that they are not without risk, not least by possibly passing on the virus to more vulnerable populations.

Oakland, Kent, suburban Wayne and Macomb counties had the most new cases reported Saturday, but there were also higher case counts reported again in the western Upper Peninsula counties of Houghton, Delta and Iron, which have fewer people and also smaller, more spread out health care facilities.

— Mike Wilkinson



Friday, Sept. 25

Case count tops 900 for second straight day; hospitalizations fall

Michigan recorded another 929 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, the second straight day it exceeded 900.

But the increase occurred as overall hospitalizations fell to 506 in-patients, one of the lowest levels reported by the state during the pandemic.

The case count pushed the total to 120,526 confirmed cases and the eight new deaths raised the total to 6,708.

Kent (79), suburban Wayne (77) and Oakland (71) counties had the most cases but they are among the most populous. 

Higher case counts continue to plague the western Upper Peninsula counties of Delta (34 cases), Houghton (26) and Iron (20)  — that’s 80 cases for counties with  a population of just over 83,000. By comparison, Kent County has more than 650,000 residents and Oakland County has more than 1.2 million.

Just under 3 percent (2.8 percent) of more than 39,500 tests came back positive, the most tests reported in a day since Aug. 25. The state has said it wants to keep the positive rate at or below 3 percent. 

— Mike Wilkinson

Thursday, Sept. 24

Health officials warn of COVID exposure at Mackinac Island 

Visitors to Mackinac Island this month are being asked to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms after a person who tested positive reported being on the island.

The following have been listed as exposure sites and times:

  • Sept. 16: Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry
    • 3 p.m. trip – Mackinac Island to Mackinaw City, top deck
    • 5:30 p.m. trip – Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island, lower level cabin
  • Sept. 17 – Kilwin’s (from 3  to 6:30 p.m.) 
  • Sept. 18 – Kilwin’s (from 3  to 7:30 pm)
  • Sept. 20 – Broken Spoke or Horn’s (from 9 to 10 p.m.)
  • Sept. 21 – Kilwin’s (from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.)
  • Sept. 22 – The Gate House restaurant (7:30 to  8 p.m.)

The Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft Health Department asks anyone who has been in the following “exposure sites” and develops COVID-19 syptoms within 14 days to immediately contact their provider or local health department for instructions or to call the LMAS health department at 906-643-1100.

Daily case count nears 1,000; total deaths at 6,700

Michigan nearly topped 1,000 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus with the state reporting 982 cases, tied for the second most in September.

The state also reported eight deaths, pushing the total confirmed COVID-19 deaths to 6,700. COVID-19 will likely be the third highest cause of death in Michigan in 2020, behind heart disease and cancer.

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 140 new cases, the most in the state, with Oakland (94) and Macomb (91), the second and third highest. They are the most populous in the state.

Despite the rising number of cases, the percent of virus tests that were positive stood at 3 percent out of more than 37,300 tests. — Mike Wilkinson

Wednesday, Sept. 23

Upper Peninsula continues to see rise in cases

Four counties in the western Upper Peninsula continue to see the highest rates of new coronavirus infections at levels well above Michigan and national rates.

Iron, Houghton, Delta and Menominee counties have averaged between 30 to 81 cases a day for every 100,000 people. The state rate has been about 7 a day per 100,000 and nationally it has been about 11 cases per 100,000.

Although the populations are small in these counties, the case counts have been high: 30 new cases in Houghton County reported Wednesday, 27 in Delta and 19 in Iron County reported Wednesday.

Iron County has had 74 cases in the last two weeks, or 84 percent of all 88 cases it’s had since March. More than half (164) of Houghton’s 275 cases have come in the last two weeks and just under half (118) of Delta’s 244 cases. Menominee has had 62 cases in the last two weeks, one-fifth of all cases it has recorded since March.

But across all of the Upper Peninsula, hospitals were treating just 10 suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients, according to the state. There are 715 hospital beds in the region.

Statewide, there were 705 new cases reported Wednesday, bringing the total to 118,615 confirmed cases. There were three deaths reported, bringing that total to 6,692.

The state reported more than 32,500 tests, in which 2.9 percent were positive. — Mike Wilkinson

Tuesday, Sept. 22

State adds 504 new confirmed cases

New coronavirus cases in Michigan rose by 504 on Tuesday, the lowest count in two weeks.

The state also announced 15 new deaths, three of which were earlier deaths now blamed on COVID-19 following a review of health records.

Hospitalizations were up for the second day in a row, to 550 confirmed or suspected cases. It had fallen to 495 late last week, the lowest level in several months.

The relatively low case counts were also spread across the state, with Kent County (55) having the most. But that west Michigan county’s rate per 100,000 is still at 8 cases a day, just slightly above the state rate. Nationally it’s over 11 cases per day per 100,000.

Testing results showed 3.4 percent of nearly 19,600 tests came back positive, just above recent levels of around 3 percent.

Overall the state has recorded 117,910 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 6,680 deaths. As a nation, the death toll rose above 200,000 on Tuesday. — Mike Wilkinson

Hospitality workers can get $500 in assistance

Hospitality workers in Michigan who lost jobs during the pandemic can apply for up to $500 in a one-time assistance payment, starting today.

The funds come from a $2.5 million grant to the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA), which says 300,000 workers — about half employed in the industry — were affected by COVID-19 layoffs, work reductions and permanent closings.

Applicants must prove they were employed in the industry as of March 10. Restaurants were closed by executive order on March 16. They were allowed to reopen at reduced capacity by early June, but many still struggle amid operating losses and customer concerns about virus spread.

The grant comes from the Michigan Department of Treasury, which is using federal CARES Act money received by the state to fund the program.

Applications will be accepted until Oct. 1 at Payments of up to $500 will be provided to approved applicants until resources are fully depleted, according to the MRLA.

“We are thankful to Governor Whitmer and the Michigan legislators for their support of the state’s hospitality workers. More than half of the 600,000 hospitality workers in Michigan temporarily lost their jobs and too many restaurants across the state were unable to reopen after the shutdown,” said Justin Winslow MRLA President & CEO in a statement.  — Paula Gardner

Monday, Sept. 21

Michigan’s latest coronavirus counts show case numbers climbing from recent averages, albeit slightly, with an average of 768 cases reported for both Sunday and Monday, along with 12 additional deaths.

On Mondays, the state reports data for the past two days and there were 1,536 new confirmed infections, or an average of 768 per day and six deaths per day.

And for the first time in about a week, Ingham County saw a decline in new daily cases, bringing the average daily cases to 82 over the last week, down from 87.

Michigan State University has seen a number of cases among students and the county has one of the highest rates per 100,000 people in the state, at 28 cases per 100,000, well above the statewide rate of about 8 cases a day per 100,000.

But case counts in a number of Upper Peninsula counties have risen, including Houghton where outbreaks have been noted at Michigan Technological University, but also in Iron, Menominee, Delta and Dickinson counties along or near the Wisconsin border.

Iron County has had 52 confirmed cases in the last two weeks; it had seen only 36 cases in the previous six months combined. Delta has seen 82 cases in the last 14 days, equal to a third of all its cases.

Testing results over two days showed that about 2.8 percent of more than 52,000 tests came back positive, just below the targeted threshold set by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration.

— Mike Wilkinson

Saturday, Sept. 19

Cases, averages continue to decline

Michigan reported 483 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, the lowest in 11 days, bringing the seven-day average to 621 daily cases, the lowest since Aug. 20.

Ingham County, which has had an outbreak among Michigan State University students, had the most cases with 64, but that is well below its seven-day average of 88. Kent County, with 41 new cases, had the second-highest number of cases among counties.

The state reported three new deaths and 12 others that are now attributed to COVID-19 after a review of death records.

Testing showed that 3.1 percent of nearly 34,000 tests reported Saturday were positive, in line with goals set by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Declines continued in Macomb, Oakland and the suburban Wayne counties, as did their seven-day averages from the prior week. The seven-day averages fell to 40 per day from 65 in Macomb; 58 from 106 in Oakland and 70 from 131 in suburbam Wayne. Detroit’s average fell to 26 cases per day from 29.

The case counts per 100,000 people in all three counties was 5 daily cases or fewer, below the state rate of about 7 and the national rate of 12 cases per 100,000. — Mike Wilkinson

Friday, Sept. 18

Michigan public health officials on Friday reported the fewest daily coronavirus cases in more than a week as hospitalizations also fell to the lowest level since June 29.

The state reported 695 new confirmed cases, which pushed the seven-day average below 700, to 651, for the first time since Sept. 9.

And the number of in-patients treated at Michigan hospitals for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 dropped to 495, the second lowest ever reported since the pandemic began in March. It fell to 471 in-patients on June 29 before slowly rising, hitting 727 on July 30.

Much of the decline in hospitalizations was seen in the six counties of metro Detroit.

The state reported six COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 6,638 since March.

Ingham County led the state with 79 new confirmed infections, though that was lower than the seven-day average of 93 a day. Oakland County reported 70.

Of more than 33,500 tests, 3.1 percent were reported positive on Friday, in line with the state’s goal of 3 percent. — Mike Wilkinson

More homes near MSU under quarantine

Eleven large houses near Michigan State University have been added to a growing quarantine list by the Ingham County Health Department, while two residences have been removed.

In all, residents at 39 houses have been ordered to quarantine immediately for the next two weeks under orders by Ingham County health officer Linda Vail.

COVID-19 have climbed since Sept. 1 — a dramatic increase that Vail called “astounding” and mostly fueled by university students.

Earlier this week, Vail ordered the quarantine of 23 fraternities and sororities and seven large rental houses. Vail, who signed the latest order Thursday evening,  said efforts to contain COVID had been stymied by a lack of cooperation in contact tracing and students’ continuing to gather without following social-distancing or mask protocols.

People who do not live in the residences are prohibited from entering the premises unless they are providing an essential service deemed necessary for the immediate health and safety of the residents. Violators face a misdemeanor punishable by a $200 fine and jail time.

“There are a lot of [students] doing the right thing and trying hard, but there are others who are not,” Vail told Bridge Michigan Wednesday, at which time one-hird of the cases for the year had been reported since Sept. 1.

As of Friday, Ingham County had reported 2,954 cases. — Robin Erb

Thursday, Sept. 17

State reports 829 new confirmed infections; positive tests fall

Despite an increase in the number of coronavirus cases found in and around Michigan’s universities and colleges, the percentage of positive tests statewide has fallen for the past week.

Three percent of more than 33,000 tests reported Thursday came back positive, down from the recent high of 4.4 percent reported on Sept. 10, which had been the highest percentage since late May.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she wants to see the state stay at or below 3 percent, which health experts say is important to identify and contain the virus’ spread.

The state reported 829 new cases of confirmed coronavirus infections on Thursday, the highest in a week, with 113 new infections reported in Wayne County, outside of Detroit, and 111 in Ingham, which is less than a third as populous as suburban Wayne County.

There were nine deaths r xeported Thursday, five of which attributed COVID-19 to earlier deaths after a review of health records. — Mike Wilkinson

19 businesses cited for COVID safety violations

Nineteen businesses in Michigan were ordered this week to pay fines over what the state called “serious violations” of safety and health workplace guidelines involving COVID-19. 

Among the 19, 15 of the fines involved lack of face mask use. Other violations included a lack of health screenings, employee training, cleaning measures and overall preparedness plans to address workplace safety during the pandemic.

The citations come from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The investigations “determined that these employers were not taking precautions to protect employees and their communities from the spread of COVID-19,” MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said in a statement. “Failure to follow guidelines puts everyone at risk and these citations are meant to reiterate the employer’s responsibility to protect their employees.”

Fines totaled $51,400 for all of the businesses. Most were construction-related businesses that were based across the Lower Peninsula. Four were retailers, including a Home Depot in Dearborn Heights ($4,000), Belle Tire in Shelby Township ($7,000), Pilot gas station in Ottawa Lake ($3,500) and Shoppers Market in Warren ($1,500). One was a food packaging facility in Detroit, Fresh Pak, which was fined $4,900. The only restaurant on the list was Americus Grill in Brighton, which received a $400 fine.

The fines were issued under the “general duty” regulation, which allows fines up to $7,000 if a workplace contains recognized hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm to the employee. 

The business will have 15 working days to contest the violations and penalties. The citations include suggestions to fix the hazards to protect employees, MIOSHA said.

Six businesses received COVID-related citations in August. — Paula Gardner

Wednesday, Sept. 16

Cases continue climb in Ingham; hospitalizations fall

Ingham County continued to see its coronavirus case rate far exceed the rest of the state, with 130 new confirmed cases reported Wednesday, nearly one-fifth of the entire state’s 680 new cases.

The new cases pushed the county’s rate to 35 new daily cases a day for each 100,000 people. For the state, the rate is just below eight cases a day for every 100,000. A week earlier, the rate had been 17 cases a day per 100,000 in Ingham.

Despite the bump in cases in Ingham, where Michigan State University has been seeing rising numbers of students get infected, the overall positive test rate was 3.1 percent on Wednesday among just over 31,000 tests.

Hospitalizations also declined slightly, with 558 in-patients currently being treated for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

The state reported 11 new deaths as well, bringing the total to 6,623. There are another 320 probable COVID-19 deaths. Overall there have been 113,863 confirmed coronavirus cases and 11,879 probable cases. — Mike Wilkinson

Tuesday, Sept. 15

State reports 571 new infections as cases climb in Ingham

The number of coronavirus cases in Ingham County continues to climb, with the county reporting 103 new infections on Tuesday, pushing its rate to 33 cases per day for each 100,000 people in the county.

The statewide rate is below six cases per day per 100,000 people.

Overall, the state reported 571 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 11 deaths, five of which were earlier deaths reclassified as a result of COVID-19.

With a rate of 33 cases a day per 100,000, Ingham has seen its rate nearly triple in a week as health officials there have asked all students to voluntarily quarantine and nearly two-dozen fraternities and sororities to quarantine.

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, which has three times the population of Ingham County, had the second most new cases with 65.

Out of more than 25,400 tests, 3.6 percent came back positive, above both Monday’s recent low of 2.5 percent and the 3 percent goal set by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration. Over the last two weeks, the overall positive percentage is 3.4 percent. —Mike Wilkinson

Monday, Sept. 14

Michigan confirmed cases at 112,612; 6,601 deaths

Michigan public health officials reported nearly 1,100 new cases of coronavirus  infections for Sunday and Monday, or an average of 544 for each day.

The state is now reporting only six days a week so Monday’s totals cover two days.

The state also reported 10 additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 6,601. There are another 320 probable COVID-19 deaths. There are now 112,612 confirmed cases of the virus and another 11,675 probable cases.

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most new cases over the two-day period, with 141. Ingham County, where officials have asked for a quarantine for all Michigan State students, had 128 cases reported for Sunday and Monday.

But testing showed lower positive test rates, with 2.5 percent of more than 31,000 tests coming back positive for the most recent day.

Though there has been an increase in cases on college campuses, there has not been an increase in hospitalizations, with 600 confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients currently being treated in Michigan hospitals. — Mike Wilkinson

Saturday, Sept. 14

Ingham County cases rise due to spike at MSU

Ingham County, where an outbreak at Michigan State University has prompted a recommendation to have students quarantine for the next two weeks, had the most new reported coronavirus cases in Michigan on Saturday, with 100 new cases.

Overall, the state reported 692 new cases on Saturday.

A far larger population center, Wayne County excluding Detroit, had the second most cases with 79.

For Ingham, the rising case counts have pushed the rate per 100,000 per day to 27 over the past week, roughly 2.5 times higher than the national rate of 11 and triple the state’s rate of just under eight new cases for every 100,000 people.

The state reported an additional 13 new deaths Saturday, all of which were from a review of prior deaths.

Testing results showed 3.2 percent of over 38,000 tests came back positive, a welcome reduction from the 4.4 percent seen on Friday. — Mike Wilkinson

Friday, Sept. 11 

Cases surpass 1,300 for the first time since April 

For the first time since late April, the state reported more than 1,300 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Michigan. Friday’s figures included nearly 300 cases in Oakland County, its highest single day since April 7.

The number of cases far exceeded any single-day counts in the last four months and pushes the state’s seven-day average to nearly 800.

A spokesman for Oakland County said the county recieved a backlog of over 300 positive test results from a laboratory that had not previoulsy been reporting results and they stretch back to mid-August.

Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, saw 177 new cases as well. But far less populous Ingham County, with 126 cases, and Ottawa, with 101, have an increasing numbers of cases among college students at Michigan State and Grand Valley State.

Of the new cases, over 700 were among people ages 10-29, over half of all cases reported for the day. Those ages make up  roughly a quarter of the state’s population.

The testing positivity rate rose as well, hitting 4.3 percent, the highest positive rate since it hit the same level on Aug. 10.

The state also reported nine additional deaths. — Mike Wilkinson

State logs highest number of cases since Aug. 15

Michigan had its highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases since Aug. 15 on Thursday with the state reporting 924 new cases.

Ingham County, with 124 new cases, had one of the highest numbers and saw its seven-day average jump to 65 cases a day, up from 15 the prior week. Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 202 new cases.

The state reported eight additional COVID-19 deaths, and nine previous ones that health officials blame on the coronavirus.

With a number of colleges and universities reporting hundreds of cases, the demography of the disease continues to shift toward younger people. Since Sept. 1, over half of all infections have been among people under 30 and 23 percent were under 20.

Before June 5, people under 30 made up just under 30 percent of cases and young people have, by far, the fastest growth rate in the last 10 days.

The number of hospitalized patients, however, fell to the lowest level in nearly two months, with Michigan hospitals reporting 577 suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients. The last time it was lower was July 13, when there were 543 reported coronavirus inpatients.

Just over 3 percent of the 33,000 tests reported Thursday came back positive, just above the state’s target level of 3 percent. — Mike Wilkinson

$300 a week unemployment boosts have started to arrive

Unemployed workers in Michigan have started to receive an extra $300 per week of benefits, dating back to the first three weeks of August.

That money comes from the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) plan, part of $2.8 billion in supplemental funding from federal revenues awarded to Michigan by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

However, not all laid-off workers will see the money this week.

“Due to the large volume of payments to be processed, workers will begin receiving LWA payments over the next week,” said the state in a news release on Thursday. It could be as long as 10 days before some of the state’s jobless residents receive their additional funds.

About 910,000 residents are eligible for the bonus payments, which initially will total $900 for the first three weeks of August.

To be eligible for LWA, a claimant’s weekly benefit amount must be at least $100 before deductions, according to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.

Workers do not have to file a separate claim or application for the payments, the state says. To qualify, claimants must have self-certified that they are unemployed due to COVID-19. 

FEMA has made six weeks of payments available, according to the state, but Michigan had to re-apply for the second three weeks of additional benefits. If awarded, that would give unemployed residents an extra $300 per week through Sept. 5. 

Meanwhile, Initial filings in Michigan for insured jobless benefits for the week ended Sept. 5 totaled 13,229, a decrease of 5,609 from the previous week, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Since March, at least 2.2 million state residents applied for jobless benefits. — Paula Gardner

Michigan’s jobless claims fall; U.S. claims steady

Michigan continues to see thousands of workers file for unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus-inspired economic downturn.

Initial filings in Michigan for insured jobless benefits for the week ended Sept. 5 totaled 13,229, a decrease of 5,609 from the previous week, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Across the United States, initial claims reached 884,000 in the first week of September. That number is unchanged from the previous week. By the end of August, 13,385,000 Americans were receiving jobless benefits.

States seeing the biggest increase in initial filings at the end of August are California, Texas and Louisiana. Michigan had the fifth largest decline, following Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

The national unemployment rate —  which represents people actively looking for jobs  —  was 8.9 percent in August. 

Michigan residents receiving jobless benefits of at least $100 will receive an extra $300 per week payout retroactive to the week that ended Aug. 1. That funding is through the federal Lost Wages Assistance plan through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Michigan officials said last week those payments should arrive this week. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer approved the funding in Senate Bill 745 on Tuesday, but no update is available on when unemployed residents will see the payments in their accounts. Also unclear is how many weeks of the extra payments will be available. Initial estimates from the Unemployment Insurance Agency were four to five weeks.

Meanwhile, among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff in the nation decreased by 3.1 million in August to 6.2 million, down from the series high of 18.1 million in April. However, the number of permanent job losers increased by 534,000 to 3.4 million; this measure has risen by 2.1 million since February. 

That coincides with what Michigan-based economists told Bridge Michigan in August. “It’s becoming pretty clear that permanent job loss is beginning to increase,” said Michael Horrigan of Upjohn.

At that time, Michigan had recovered about half of the jobs lost to the pandemic, or about 540,000 positions. The state saw 266,000 jobs return in June; job gains fell to 103,000 in July. Updated numbers for August should be available soon. — Paula Gardner

Wednesday, Sept. 9

Michigan logs 783 cases as campus outbreaks spread

Michigan reported 783 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, with the most logged in suburban Wayne County, which had 166 cases.

With 103 cases, Ingham County had the second most cases as an increasing number of cases are coming from the Michigan State University campus. 

Ingham County, with about 292,000 residents, is the seventh most populous county in the state. In the last week, the number of cases per 100,000 people there has been 17, five times higher than the rate (3 per 100,000) of the week before.

Ottawa County, where nearly 400 students at Grand Valley State University have tested positive for COVID-19, has seen its rate jump from 11 new cases a day per 100,000 to 18 cases in the last week.

The state also reported 13 additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 6,552. It also greatly raised the number of probable COVID-19 deaths to 335, up from 272 on Tuesday. Total confirmed cases stand at 108,595, with 11,268 probable cases.

Of more than 23,000 tests reported Wednesday, 3.9 percent were positive. The seven-day positive rate has risen from 3.1 percent to 3.5 percent in the last week.— Mike Wilkinson

Whitmer’s ‘real-time’ school coronavirus outbreak data could be a week old

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Friday for “real-time” release of information about coronavirus outbreaks at Michigan schools to inform parents and communities.

It turns out, though, that “real-time” disclosure will come weekly, and the outbreaks themselves may be older than that.

Whitmer had answered “absolutely” when asked whether she believes schools should report outbreaks daily, as a coalition of more than 30 Michigan news and transparency groups (including Bridge and the Center for Michigan) requested in a letter to the governor last week.

But when Bridge asked what “real-time” meant, Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown said the governor “was not agreeing or suggesting that there will be daily reporting, but was responding to the need to have timely and accurate information reported on school outbreaks.”      Read the full story >

Tuesday, Sept. 8

Outbreaks rising in schools, colleges

There were 10 new coronavirus outbreaks in Michigan K-12 schools and colleges in the past week, according to data released Tuesday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The new outbreaks bring the total of new and ongoing outbreaks in schools and colleges to 22; the previous week, there were 14; the week before that, 10.

The state currently doesn’t provide the locations of the outbreaks or the number of cases associated with each outbreak. That will change next week, according to state health officials.

According to the state, there were three new outbreaks in K-12 schools between Aug. 28 and Sept. 3 (the most recent data available), and eight ongoing outbreaks. There were seven new outbreaks on college campuses during that same time period, and four ongoing. — Ron French

441 new cases, 1 new death

Michigan reported 441 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, and one additional death.

Elevated case rates are still being reported in areas with colleges and universities, including Ottawa, Ingham and Lenawee counties.

Overall, the state has reported 107,812 confirmed cases and another 11,090 probable cases of the virus since March. The total number of deaths stands at 6,539, with 272 probable deaths.

Testing results showed 3.2 percent of more than 17,400 tests came back positive. The state is targeting 3 percent as a goal.

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most new cases, with 60, but it was below the seven-day average of 101. — Mike Wilkinson

Whitmer signs bill to give $300 a week in enhanced unemployed benefits

Supplemental benefits of $300 per week for unemployed workers were formally approved on Tuesday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as she signed Senate Bill 745.

State officials last week said the funds, which will be retroactively added to payments from early August, should be received sometime this week. However, no official release date was available Tuesday from the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.

The additional payments come from $2.8 billion in supplemental funding from federal revenues awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Payments will be made until federal emergency disaster relief funding is exhausted. At this time, that’s estimated at four to five weeks. 

“This is good news for the thousands of Michiganders who are still without work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s still a short term Band-Aid that falls short of what’s needed,” Whitmer said in a statement.

About 2.6 million Michigan residents have filed for jobless benefits since mid-March, with 2.2 million of those claims eligible for payouts. The maximum unemployment benefit in Michigan is $362 per week. Someone receiving that would receive $662 per week with the new benefit. 

In addition to the unemployment funds,  Senate Bill 745 also includes match funding for disaster flood cleanup in Midland and Gladwin counties, as well as funding to cover costs for flood response and mitigation efforts in Detroit.  — Paula Gardner

Monday, Sept. 7

Michigan averages 578 cases Sunday and Monday

Michigan reported an average of 578 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday and Monday, and four new deaths.

The state has moved to reporting cases six days a week. Monday marked the first time that state officials reported two days’ results in one. Since Saturday, there were 1,156 new cases, or an average of 578 per day.

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most cases, 235, but the cases-per-100,000 people rate remained unchanged at six.

As has been the case for the past two weeks, counties with colleges and universities, many doing systematic testing, had increases in cases, with the rates per 100,000 well above prior weeks.

Ingham (Michigan State University), Ottawa (Grand Valley State University) and Houghton (Michigan Technological University) all had weekly rates jump. In Houghton, the rate jumped from sixto 30 cases per 100,000; it rose from five to 20 in Ottawa and from four to 12 in Ingham.

The 75 cases in Houghton the past week is more than half of the 137 cases the county has had since March.

Testing results showed the positive rate crept over 3.5 percent in the last two days and had his 3.9 percent on Saturday. — Mike Wilkinson

Saturday, Sept. 5

Ottawa County cases surge

Positive coronavirus cases in Ottawa County hit that west Michigan county’s highest level on Saturday, accounting for 129 of the state’s 838 newly confirmed cases.

The county has been reporting higher positive tests related to systematic testing of students at Grand Valley State University and earlier testing at Hope College.

The state also reported five new deaths Saturday and classified three prior deaths as being caused by COVID-19.

Overall, the state now has 106,215 confirmed coronavirus cases since March and 10,976 probable ones. There have been 6,534 confirmed deaths and 272 probable. 

An epidemiologist in Ottawa County told Bridge Michigan earlier this week the increase in cases is not an indication of community spread because it is centered at the university and college.

Out of more than 36,000 tests across the state reported Saturday, 3.4 percent came back positive, slightly above the state’s target rate of 3 percent or lower.

The state also adjusted a number of cases it had reported Friday in Ionia County. It had reported 79 new cases there on Friday but on Saturday removed 69 of those cases. They were recategorized on Saturday as having come from within the state prison system in Ionia County.

NOTE: MDHHS recently announced it would stop reporting COVID-19 updates on Sunday for the foreseeable future. So come back to Bridge for the next coronavirus tracker update on Monday. — Mike Wilkinson

Friday, Sept. 4

Health officials Friday report most new cases since Aug. 15

A day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended her emergency powers, saying progress against the spread of the coronavirus had “eroded,” the state reported nearly 1,000 new cases, the highest amount in almost three weeks.

The state reported 982 new cases, the most since 1,015 were reported on Aug. 15. It pushed the seven-day average up to 674. Health officials also reported seven additional COVID-19 deaths.

In comments on WJR 760-AM radio, on Friday morning, Whitmer told host Kevin Dietz that the coronavirus was the “worst public health crisis in 100 years and we’re doing it with grit and guts and the numbers speak for themselves.”

Despite extending her emergency powers until Oct. 1, Whitmer acknowledged that the virus is causing fewer illnesses and deaths and testing has been more widespread with a relatively low percentage of positive tests.

“We are making huge progress and most states in the nation would give anything to trade places with where we are,” she said, “ but we still have some areas that are very concerning.”

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most cases with 158, the most it has reported in over two weeks, and Oakland County reported 86 new cases.

The state reported that Ionia County in west Michigan had 79 new cases when it had had fewer than 200 before Friday. There’s a prison in Ionia and the state has, at times, misallocated cases in prisons to the counties they are in. Bridge Michigan has sought a comment from the state department of corrections.

Out of more than 28,400 tests administered, 3.5 percent have come back positive. Whitmer has set a goal of a positive rate of at or below 3 percent. In March and April, the positive test rate approached 40 percent. — Mike Wilkinson

Thursday, Sept. 3

Whitmer extends her executive order

With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 177th executive order this year — and just days after Michigan marked its 100,000th confirmed COVID-19 case — Michigan’s State of Emergency has been extended again.

The order, announced as the week wound down toward the Labor Day weekend, ends 11:59 p.m. Oct. 1.

“By extending the state of emergency, we can continue the crucial work needed to save lives,” Whitmer said in a prepared statement.

“With over 6,500 deaths, the virus continues to threaten the lives of Michiganders every day,” she wrote. “… We must continue to take this seriously and do everything we can to protect ourselves and all Michiganders from COVID-19.”  

While Whitmer is correct that new cases continue to be reported, the statement extending the emergency doesn’t acknowledge some dramatic shifts in how the virus is impacting Michiganders. A Bridge Michigan analysis shows young people now make up a growing share of new cases and the number of people hospitalized on any given day has fallen dramatically, with far fewer dying.

In the first three months of the pandemic, 36 percent of the infected were over 60 years old and just 8 percent were under 30.  Since then, just 17 percent are older than 60, while 43 percent are under 30.

The impact of that change has been sharp: In the first three months, 5,700 people died, many elderly residents at nursing homes. In July and August, there were 550 deaths.

Roughly 3 percent of all diagnostic tests are coming back positive, which state health officials have said is the level Whitmer wants to stay at or under. It’s also about half the national average of 6.1 percent.

The Thursday order extends the governor’s authority to make decisions without input from the GOP-dominated Legislature. Republican lawmakers have sued, challenging the constitutionality of Whitmer’s continued extensions of a statewide state of emergency since the first on March 10, the day the first cases were confirmed in Michigan. So far, courts have sided with Whitmer. — Mike Wilkinson and Robin Erb

685 new cases, 10 deaths reported

State public health officials reported 685 new cases of the coronavirus across Michigan and 10 additional deaths attributed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The highest number of cases were found in Macomb County (95) though other, less populous counties are showing higher seven-day rates, including Lenawee (19 cases per 100,000 people), Isabella (23) and Ottawa (13). Those counties have all had colleges or universities report dozens of cases.

There are 611 people being treated in Michigan hospitals for confirmed or suspected COVID-19, just below the two-week average of 630 and well below the peak number of about 4,000 in April.

Overall, the state has reported 104,395 confirmed coronavirus cases and 6,519 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. There have been another 10,847 probable cases and 272 probable deaths. — Mike Wilkinson

Michigan gyms, indoor pools can reopen Sept. 9

Gyms and indoor pools can reopen on Sept. 9 and organized sports can resume on Sept. 4 under an executive order signed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday. 

Under the order, gyms and pools must follow enhanced safety precautions to protect against the spread of coronavirus, and organized sports played indoors must have limited audiences. Read the full story >

Wednesday, Sept. 2

Reported cases leap in Ottawa County, fall in Macomb

Ottawa County in West Michigan saw a big jump in coronavirus cases Wednesday with the state reporting 73 cases there as the seven-day daily average in the county rose to 33 cases a day, up from 11 in the previous week.

The cases were among 524 new cases reported in the state, along with 14 new COVID-19 deaths.

For Ottawa County, the new cases pushed its daily rate to 11 cases per 100,000 people, up from four the previous week.

The state reported over 27,000 new coronavirus tests on Wednesday, with 3 percent coming back positive. The state’s goal is to see that rate stay at 3 percent or lower.

There were good signs too: Macomb County saw its average daily rate fall from 122 two weeks ago to 79 a day in the past seven days. Oakland County, suburban Wayne County and Detroit also saw declines.

But increases continue in Lenawee (33 new cases) and Isabella (22 new cases) counties. — Mike Wilkinson

White House adviser: Schools need to be transparent on COVID cases

President Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator on Wednesday said Michigan schools must be transparent in reporting COVID-19 information to parents.

Dr. Deborah Birx spoke privately in the morning with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who  reportedly asked for a federal mandate on masks. Birx then met privately with health care leaders in Livonia midday to speak about Michigan’s continued battle against a virus for which there is yet no sure treatment or vaccine.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Birx addressed issues ranging from whether schools should notify the community of COVID outbreaks to a federal mask mandate to vaccine development.

She encouraged K-12 schools to be as transparent with communities about COVID-19 cases, but she stopped short of saying they should be required to do so. 

The state of Michigan will not release names of schools with outbreaks, defined as at least two cases with an epidemiological link, until Sept. 14. And it’s unclear what information the state will include in its listing.

“Every school district knows … what their COVID case numbers are, and they need to be transparent about that to every single parent,” Birx said. “And frankly every single person who lives in a county should be going on that [state] website … and see whether there are cases in their county and if they’re increasing.”

She lauded colleges that have been publicized case numbers.

“They’re being very transparent about their cases and whether [cases are] student or staff or administration. I think that is enormously helpful to every university student out there,” she said.

Schools, she said, “will strictly be a reflection of what’s happening in the community, and what’s happening in that county.”

When it comes to mask mandates, Birx said they work best when they are passed locally and at a state level. Birx, who has been visiting different states during the pandemic,  said retailers are most effective at changing behavior.

“This is my 26th state, and I have to say the best enforcement for masks is retail,” she said. “I will see people get out of their car and run up to the gas station and then they see the sign, ‘No mask. No entry.’

“That kind of constant behavioral reinforcement that we need to have a mask on when we’re in public and anywhere. … Our private sector is really helping us get that message out,” she said. — Robin Erb

Michigan to identify K-12 schools with coronavirus outbreaks Sept. 14

Michigan families will know if there are COVID-19 outbreaks at their K-12 schools beginning Sept. 14 — the first full week of school following Labor Day, a state spokeswoman told Bridge Tuesday evening.

Details were still being hammered out as officials finalized processes to pass the information from the state’s schools and local health departments to the state, said Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The list will include not only the name and location of the K-12 school, but also the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at that school.   Read the full story >

COVID-19 vaccine race heats up with clinical trials at 3 sites

The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is picking up as three medical centers in Michigan now are involved in Phase 3 clinical trials of three different vaccine candidates. The hope is at least one of them will prove to be safe and effective in preventing the disease that has killed more than 183,000 Americans.

The goal for all three trials will be to recruit 30,000 people across several sites nationally to test safety and immune responses to the vaccine. Read the full story >

Tuesday, Sept. 1

Cases continue rise in Michigan college towns

Case counts in college towns continued to grow as Michigan public health officials reported 718 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Tuesday.

There were 29 new cases reported in Lenawee County, where officials at Adrian College have reported a number of cases, and there were 18 more in Isabella County, which has seen an outbreak at Central Michigan University.

For both counties, the cases pushed up the seven-day average, as it did in Ottawa County, which saw 52 new cases, nearly tripling its seven-day average to 26 cases a day, up from 10. An outbreak has been recorded at Hope College in that county.

More populous counties like Oakland (100) and Macomb (98) had more cases but the rates per 100,000 were far lower (7 and 10 cases per 100,000) than those in Lenawee (12) and Isabella (28).

The state reported seven new COVID-19 deaths and eight prior deaths now considered COVID-19 deaths. The total deaths stands at 6,495 confirmed and 272 probable. There have been 103,186 confirmed coronavirus cases and 10,634 probable ones.

Just over 24,100 tests were reported Tuesday, with 3.3 percent coming back positive. The state’s goal is to keep the rate at 3 percent or lower.

There are 646 hospital patients being treated for coronavirus, roughly the same number that have been treated in the past two weeks. In April and May as many as 4,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized on some days. — Mike Wilkinson

Michigan news coalition urges Gov. Whitmer to identify school COVID-19 outbreaks

More than 30 Michigan news and government transparency organizations delivered a letter (below) to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday urging rapid release of school related COVID outbreak details as students and educators start the new school year. 

In-person/in-school instruction is an option in many schools, yet through August, state and local health departments failed to publicly identify schools or colleges where more than a dozen COVID-19 outbreaks were traced.  Read more >

Monday, Sept. 1

Cases elevated in Isabella County, home of CMU

Michigan public health officials reported 451 new coronavirus cases on Monday, along with seven new deaths.

The report brings the total confirmed cases to 102,468 and deaths to 6,480. There are an additional 10,557 probable cases and 273 probable deaths.

Though the most new cases were reported in metro Detroit, the numbers were relatively small, with 52 in suburban Wayne County and 47 in Oakland County.

The state continues to see elevated levels in Isabella County, where Central Michigan University is the site of an outbreak, with 16 new cases in that county. The rate of daily new cases in Isabella (28 per day per 100,000 people) is higher than the rate per 100,000 residents in metro Detroit, which was 5 per 100,000 in Wayne County and 7 cases per 100,000 in Oakland County and 10 in Macomb County.

Ottawa County just west of Grand Rapids reported 40 new cases Monday, which was double its seven-day average of 19 cases a day.

The positive test rate reported Monday was 3.2 percent, roughly the same as it has been for the past week. — Mike Wilkinson

Sunday, Aug. 31

539 new COVID-19 cases bring Michigan’s total to 102,017

With 539 new confirmed coronavirus cases recorded Sunday, Michigan’s total COVID-19 case count has risen to 102,017.

The state also recorded six new deaths, down from Saturday’s highest-since-June death count of 14. Michigan now has 6,473 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. 

The seven-day average of new cases was 749 as of Sunday. Test records showed a positive-result rate of 2.5 percent among 26,394 tests, putting Michigan within the state’s target positive test result range of 3 percent or lower. 

County-level daily case rate changes are difficult to calculate because the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services did not publish datasets on Saturday containing county-by-county case totals. 

Saturday, Aug. 29

14 new COVID-19 deaths Saturday, highest since June

Michigan recorded 799 new confirmed coronavirus cases Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 101,478. 

Michigan also reported 14 new COVID-19 deaths, the most in a day since June 27. In addition, seven deaths were added to the total death count after a review of recent vital records, bringing Michigan’s total deaths to 6,467.

Michigan’s seven-day average of new cases dipped to 782 on Saturday, after rising above 800 on Friday. — Kelly House

Friday, Aug 28

Michigan hits 100,000 coronavirus cases

Michigan officially recorded its 100,000th confirmed coronavirus case on Friday as its seven-day average exceeded 800 new daily cases for the first time since early May.

The state reported 741 new cases, pushing the total to 100,699 since the first case was confirmed on March 10. Six new COVID-19 deaths were reported. There have now been 6,446 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most new cases, 102, followed by neighboring Macomb (99) and Oakland (89) counties. But Isabella County, where an outbreak has occurred at Central Michigan University, had the fifth most new cases, 31, in a county with the 27th largest population.

Testing results showed 3.3 percent of 33,268 tests came back positive. The state’s target has been 3 percent or lower.

The number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in Michigan hospitals continued to decline, with 607 inpatients at state hospitals, down from a recent high of 727 on July 30. Nearly 4,000 COVID-19 patients were admitted at the peak of the pandemic in April.— Mike Wilkinson

Michigan has reached an unwanted milestone in the coronavirus pandemic, recording more than 100,000 cases in the virus that has sickened tens of millions across the globe and caused over 830,000 deaths.

It’s a staggering number for a virus first confirmed in the state on March 10. Since then, it has killed more than 6,400 residents and left more than 1 million jobless as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut businesses and schools in an effort to control the virus. See our charts and maps that analyzes where the virus started and where it headed, who’s contracting it and who’s dying from it, and what recent tests results reveal. 

Read the full story and see the data by Mike Wilkinson >

Thursday, Aug. 27

Total case count nears 100,000

Michigan pushed close to 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases Thursday, with 758 new reported infections.

That brings the total to 99,958 confirmed cases. Another 10,385 probable cases have been reported.

The state said there was one new COVID-19 death, along with 15 previous deaths that are now classified as caused by the coronavirus. Since the pandemic began, there have been 6,440 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and another 266 probables.

Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 161 cases, the most in nearly two weeks. Neighboring Macomb (91) and Oakland (89) counties had the second and third highest daily cases.

Testing revealed nearly 3.6 percent of nearly 31,000 tests came back positive. — Mike Wilkinson

Wednesday, Aug. 26

Positive rates decline as testing increases

Michigan reported Wednesday its lowest positive coronavirus test rate in over two months, with just 2.4 percent of more than 41,000 tests coming back positive.

It was also the second highest number of tests ever reported, just below the nearly 42,000 recorded Aug. 21. The previous low was 2.3 percent on June 21, when 10,659 tests were reported.

Public health officials have said the goal is to keep Michigan’s positive rate at or below 3 percent. At the height of the pandemic in March and April nearly 40 percent of tests were coming back positive.

The state also reported 761 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, in line with recent days and pushing the seven-day average up to 703 cases. Statewide, that amounts to just under eight cases for every 100,000 people; nationwide that rate is 13 cases per 100,000.

Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most new cases with 141, followed by Oakland County (134) and Macomb County (98).

There were seven new deaths reported, bringing the total to 6,423 since March. There are now 98,200 confirmed coronavirus cases and another 10,280 probable cases. There are 266 probable deaths. — Mike Wilkinson

Tuesday, Aug. 25

779 new cases, 11 deaths reported in the last day

Michigan’s coronavirus cases remained near 800 again Tuesday, with 779 confirmed cases reported.

The state also reported 11 new deaths and classified six previous deaths as caused by COVID-19. The 11 new deaths marked just the third time since July 8 that there were 10 or more new deaths.

Overall, the state has reported 98,439 confirmed cases and 6,417 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

The state prison system reported 200 new cases on Tuesday, by far the most of any entity. Macomb (84), Oakland (83) and suburban Wayne (70) counties were the next three highest counties. — Mike Wilkinson

Monday, Aug. 24

868 new cases, 4 deaths in the last day

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 868 new confirmed coronavirus cases and four additional deaths on Monday.

The elevated number comes after a couple of days of big swings, perhaps caused by problems on Friday with reporting the numbers. The state reported 374 cases on Friday but said there was limited reporting that day and future days could have higher numbers than would be expected.

Monday’s cases brought the seven-day average up to 639, giving the state about six new cases a day for every 100,000 people. Nationwide, that number is twice as high, or 13 cases per 100,000, according to the Washington Post.

Macomb County (138), followed by Oakland County (128) and Wayne County, excluding Detroit, (115), had the most new cases reported Monday.

About 3 percent of coronavirus tests reported Monday came back positive, a safe level that allows public health officials to quickly identify outbreaks.

All told, there have been 97,660 confirmed cases in the state since March, along with 10,026 probable ones. There have been 6,397 confirmed deaths and 266 probable ones. — Mike Wilkinson

Health emergency declared as COVID spreads at Central Michigan University

Coronavirus cases connected to the return of students at the Mount Pleasant campus doubled over the weekend, prompting the declaration of a public health emergency in Isabella County to limit the size of gatherings. Read the full story >

Care or punishment? Michigan prisoners placed in solitary

Coronavirus cases are surging in Michigan prisons after a two-month lull, and some experts say the state has resorted to inhumane and ineffective treatment of prisoners to try to contain the virus.

Since March, the Michigan Department of Corrections has placed inmates who are sick or suspected of being so in solitary confinement — which is normally reserved for punishment — and grouped them in “cohorts” that allowed the virus to spread to the healthy, according to an investigation by Bridge Michigan reporting partner Outlier Media. Read the full story >

Sunday, Aug. 23

768 new cases confirmed on Sunday

There were 768 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan reported Sunday. The seven-day average of daily cases is now 582, a significant decline from last Sunday (Aug. 16), when the seven-day average was 760.

Isabella County continues to be a hotspot, with almost a quarter of all its confirmed cases of the coronavirus being reported in just the past three days. The county has recorded 68 new infections since Thursday, after recording 208 total before then. Health officials tie the spike to the return of students to the Mt. Pleasant campus of Central Michigan University.

Macomb County reported the most new cases Sunday, with 143, followed by Wayne County outside of Detroit (137) and Oakland County (126).

Four more Michigan residents died from COVID-19 in the 24-hour recording period ending at 10 a.m. Sunday, raising the state’s confirmed death toll to 6,393, with another 266 deaths that health officials say were likely caused by the coronavirus.

Total confirmed infections now stand at 96,792, with another 10,016 probable cases.

Saturday, Aug. 22

953 new coronavirus cases added Saturday

There were 953 new confirmed cases of coronavirus reported in Michigan by 10 a.m. Saturday, raising the total number of confirmed Michigan cases to 96,024 since the pandemic struck the state in March.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases now stands at 553.

In Isabella County, home of Central Michigan University, there were 49 new confirmed infections in the past two days – a new case every hour. The total number of coronavirus cases in the mid-Michigan county since the pandemic began jumped 23 percent in just two days.

CMU began classes Monday, Aug. 17, and five days later, there were 38 new coronavirus cases connected to students returning to campus, according to the Central Michigan District Health Department.

Macomb County had the most new cases reported Saturday (201), followed by Oakland County (189) and Wayne County outside of Detroit (145).

There were three coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, and eight previous deaths added to the overall state tally following a vital records review. So far, 6,389 Michigan residents are confirmed to have died from COVID-19.

Friday, Aug. 21 

Confirmed cases down after data reporting glitch 

Problems at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services caused a glitch in data reporting on Friday, with just 374 new confirmed cases reported and 10 additional deaths.

Officials said the number was lower than it would have been if not for problems handling information from testing laboratories. Because of the problems, state public health officials said higher numbers would be reported in coming days.

The numbers brought the totals to 95,071 confirmed cases and 6,378 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

Because of the problems, the state did not release county-by-county results nor testing data.

The 374 cases is well below what has been seen on recent Fridays, with over 700 on the past two Fridays. 

Thursday, Aug. 20

Confirmed cases decline, a low since July 1

Newly confirmed coronavirus cases fell to 419 on Thursday, the lowest midweek day (Tuesday through Friday) since July 1.

Case counts have typically been lower on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

The daily total also triggered a major drop in the seven-day average, to 615 from 715, hopeful signs as schools, colleges and universities are about to start the new year.

There were 19 new deaths reported, 11 of which were prior deaths that authorities now believe were caused by COVID-19.

The cases bring the total confirmed cases to 94,697 and deaths now stand at 6,368.

For more interactive maps and charts, see the Michigan Coronavirus Dashboard, showing case numbers by day, locations, deaths and demographics. 

Note: As of 4 p.m. on Aug. 20, some of the state data had been delayed by technical difficulty and not all graphics have been updated.  — Mike Wilkinson

Today in Bridge:

Wednesday, Aug. 19

State reports 616 new cases

Michigan public health officials reported 616 new confirmed coronavirus cases Wednesday and nine additional COVID-19 deaths.

The caseload put the seven-day average at 715, slightly above Tuesday but below 760 hit on Sunday.

All told, there are now 94,278 confirmed cases and 9,813 probable and 6,349 confirmed deaths and 268 probable.

Testing numbers showed 3 percent of tests were positive, out of more than 32,900 taken. — Mike Wilkinson

Unemployment rate declines as pandemic job cuts are recovered

Michigan’s unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 8.7 percent in July, according to information released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. A month earlier, it was 14.8 percent.

Payroll jobs in Michigan rose by 103,000 in July, but the state said that the number was “well below” the 266,000 jobs added in June, when the unemployment rate was 14.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the U.S. jobless rate in July was 10.2 percent, 1.5 percentage points above Michigan’s rate.

“Michigan has now recovered about half of the coronavirus-related job cuts that occurred in March and April 2020,” said Jason Palmer, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “Payroll employment has increased by about 540,000 over the three-month period of May through July 2020.”

Uncounted in the unemployment numbers are people who have stepped out of the labor force and aren’t looking for jobs, including people who may be on long-term unemployment or who are choosing to stay home with children.

That number may be contributing to problems with analyzing the drop in the unemployment rate.

Michigan labor force estimates in July 2020 were difficult to evaluate, particularly due to a sharp estimated reduction in the number of unemployed,” according to the state’s news release.

Meanwhile, most major industry sectors showed employment increases in July. According to the state, leisure and hospitality showed the largest gain, with 28,000 jobs added.

All of Michigan’s major industries have seen  job cuts since July 2019. — Paula Gardner

Whitmer announces $60 million for needy schools

An additional $60 million in federal funding will be available to Michigan’s neediest schools prepare to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday. 

More than half of a district’s students must be considered economically disadvantaged to qualify for additional funding. Money will be allocated based on the numbers of low-income, special education and English language learning students. 

“We developed this formula to help schools and students and educators who are going to struggle the most as we try to resume life in the midst of this pandemic,” Whitmer told reporters Wednesday. 

The money, which can be used for internet updates, personal protective gear and the like, may not go far: 60 percent of the state’s 587 school districts and more than 80 percent of its 300 charters have students populations with more than 50 percent of students who are “economically disadvantaged.”

An additional $5.4 million will be allocated for mental health services across the state, public television learning resources and a program for infant and toddler remote education. 
The funding comes out of $89.4 million allocated to Michigan under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund, a $3 billion fund created through the CARES Act stimulus package approved by Congress in March to be spent at the governor’s discretion. Whitmer has until mid-May 2021 to spend the rest of the money. — Riley Beggin

Tuesday, Aug. 18

MSU moves undergrad classes online, tells dorm residents to stay home

Michigan State University has told undergrad students preparing to live on campus to stay home this fall, as fear grows that stringent health protocols won’t be enough to stop the spread of the coronavirus among students and staff.

The announcement, sent to students and parents after 5 p.m. Tuesday, said all undergraduate classes were being moved online, and that students who’d signed leases to live in dorms should instead take their classes remotely from home if possible. MSU becomes the first public university in the state to take such aggressive measures to limit the number of students on campus this fall.  — Read the full story >

Michigan added 477 cases

Michigan’s coronavirus case count rose 477 on Tuesday, with 15 new deaths.

The cases were below last Tuesday’s 557 and put the seven-day average at 703 cases a day, or seven cases per 100,000. The U.S. average is about 16 cases per 100,000.

Of the 15 deaths, seven were added to the total following a review of prior death records.

All told, there are now 93,662 confirmed cases and 9,741 probable and 6,340 confirmed deaths and 268 probable.

Testing numbers showed just 2.7 percent of tests were positive, below the 3.4 percent shown in both of the last two weeks. Public health experts say rates below 5 percent are a sign that outbreaks can be quickly identified.

Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, had the most new reported cases, 90, and Macomb County, which had been above 100 for most recent days, reported 69 new cases. Oakland County had 57, the only other county over 50. — Mike Wilkinson

Monday, Aug. 17

Michigan reports 465 new cases

After a couple of days of more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, Michigan reported 465 new confirmed cases on Monday, and one new death.

The case count, which has typically been lower on Mondays, is below last Monday’s 514 and well below Thursday and Saturday, which exceeded 1,000. The seven-day average stayed steady at 747.

Those numbers bring the totals to 93,185 confirmed cases and 6,325 confirmed deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. There also are 9,564 probable cases and 267 probable deaths.

Testing results showed that 3.5 percent of nearly 19,344 tests came back positive, the same percent over the past week.

Macomb (87) and Oakland (82) counties had the most new cases, followed by suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, with 70 cases.

More than 8 percent of newly reported tests in Macomb came back positive, and nearly 6 percent in Oakland, two of the highest rates in the state. Tuscola County was at 6.1 percent.

Sunday, Aug. 16

565 new cases reported Sunday

Michigan public health officials reported 565 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, and six new deaths.

Those numbers bring the totals to 92,720 confirmed cases and 6,324 confirmed deaths. There have been 9,539 probable cases and 268 probable deaths.

Testing results showed that 3.6 percent of nearly 29,900 tests came back positive. 

Michigan officials on Sunday also changed the location of nearly 170 cases reported on Saturday.

On Saturday, the state’s numbers indicated that Muskegon County had seen an increase of 168 cases, by far the most ever seen in a day there — the previous high had been 29.

However, the numbers released Sunday show 156 fewer cases in Muskegon County from the day before, and 11 fewer in Luce County. An official from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services explained that the state had initially assigned prison virus cases to the general populations in those counties before later confirming they were prison cases. 

Both counties are home to state prisons and the Muskegon facility has been hard hit by an outbreak. The Michigan Department of Corrections saw its case count rise 181 on Sunday — the largest increase of any county or entity in the state — after increasing by 114 on Saturday.

Macomb County reported 94 new cases and Oakland County reported 92 on Sunday. — Mike Wilkinson

Saturday, Aug. 15

More than 1,000 cases 

Michigan’s daily coronavirus case count exceeded 1,000 for the second time in three days Saturday. Another 18 deaths were also reported.

The 1,015 cases follows 1,121 on Thursday and pushes the seven-day average to 753, its highest mark since Aug. 1. 

Overall, there are now 92,155 confirmed cases and 9,627 probable cases and 6,318 confirmed deaths and 268 probables ones in Michigan. Fourteen of Saturday’s reported deaths were added after a review of earlier death records.

For the first time ever, Muskegon County reported the most cases in the state, 168, nearly six times more than its previous one-day high of 29 on May 14.

The state prison in Muskegon has had a large outbreak in the past two weeks, and the Michigan Department of Corrections reported 114 new cases system-wide on Saturday.

Bob Wheaton, a state health spokesperson, said the confirmed cases in Muskegon are likely related to the prison. He also said it was “too early” to determine if the recent uptick of cases is a trend.

We certainly don’t like to see this many cases in a day, but we need to look at more data — including onset dates — over a greater period of time,” he said. “This is all the more reason for masking up, hand washing and other precautions.”

Statewide, just over 4 percent of tests were positive, though it was 27 percent in the prison system. In metro Detroit, both Macomb (6.6 percent) and Livingston counties (6.1 percent) were over 6 percent. — Mike Wilkinson

Friday, Aug. 14

11 new COVID deaths

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan rose 748 today with 11 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

The case count is markedly lower than Thursday’s 1,121, which was the highest since May 14, and more in line with what the state has been seeing over the past two weeks.

The new cases bring the total to 91,140 confirmed cases and 6,300 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. There are another 9,584 probable cases and 266 probable deaths.

Nearly 39,300 tests were reported Friday, with 3.5 percent coming back positive.

Metro Detroit continued to lead the state in new infections, with Oakland County reporting 140 new cases, and both Macomb County and suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reporting 116.

Over the last week, Macomb County has had a positive test rate of 7 percent, compared to the statewide rate of 3.3 percent over the same time frame. It was 4.7 percent in suburban Wayne, 4.4 percent in Oakland and 2.7 in Detroit.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive and chief deputy director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said state officials are monitoring long-term trends and noted the higher rates of infection in metro Detroit. But she also pointed out the overall positive test rate of 3.2 percent.

We also continue to see a low level of deaths,” Khaldun said during a Friday news conference regarding the pandemic. “These are all good signs.” — Mike Wilkinson

Michigan to provide 4 million free face masks

Michigan, Ford Motor Co. and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are teaming up to provide 4 million face masks to “residents who are most vulnerable to COVID-19,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday. 

The state has already sent 1.5 million masks from FEMA to local Community Action Agencies serving low-income residents, MDHHS offices, Area Agencies on Aging, homeless shelters and Native American tribes.

Another 1.5 million masks from Ford and FEMA will go to schools in low-income areas, the City of Detroit, local health centers, COVID-19 testing sites and other organizations. 

The partnership “is going to save lives,” Whitmer said in a press briefing.

The program is designed to reach minority populations and linked to work by the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.

The coronavirus has had a disproportionate impact on African Americans in Michigan. Black residents comprise about 14 percent of the state’s population but as of Thursday accounted for nearly 40 percent of deaths, 2,457 of 6,289, Gilchrist said, pointing to likely reasons for that disparity.

Among the likely reasons for the disparity, Gilchrist said, is that “people of color who don’t have the financial luxury of working from home … take public transportation to get groceries and other services and don’t have access to quality health care in a consistent way.” — Jonathan Oosting

Thursday, Aug. 14

Daily cases jump past 1,100 

Michigan public health officials reported 1,121 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, the single most daily cases reported since May 14 and a sharp departure from recent trends.

The state also reported 16 deaths, seven from the past day and nine other earlier deaths that officials now blame upon COVID-19.

All told, the state has risen above 90,000 confirmed cases, with 90,392. There are another 9,464 probable infections. The death toll is at 6,289, with another 266 probable deaths.

Previous spikes have been explained by backlogs of tests or problems with the time frame of reporting periods and Thursday’s spike comes one day after a recent midweek low, when 517 cases were reported.

Bob Wheaton, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said there were no problems with the data but said they should be looked at cautiously.

“We need to be careful about reading too much into one day’s data, but we will be closely watching and looking for trends that this data might contribute to on a bigger picture level,” he said.

Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 223 new cases, the most in the state, with neighboring Oakland County reporting 201. For both it’s the highest daily total in weeks.

The state also reported conducting 40,441 tests, the most ever. The positive rate remained low at 3.1 percent. — Mike Wilkinson

Every school district and charter school in Michigan by Friday will have filed their reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year.

If the early plans or announcements made so far are any indication, most public school students can expect to start the school year similar to the way they ended the last: online.

For most school administrators, this is not the ideal situation. But it’s the new reality as they weigh health and safety concerns. Officials in districts that are offering some form of online learning in the fall are weighing the same things but are moving toward a face-to-face return in part to address parents’ needs.

Read more to find out if your school is starting in-person or online.  

Weekly unemployment claims below 1 million

About 963,000 Americans filed for jobless benefits during the week ended Aug. 8,  including 14,462 from Michigan, according to numbers released Thursday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The number of filings is the first time fewer than 1 million sought unemployment since the pandemic started in the spring. Michigan claims dropped from 19,842 a week earlier.

More than 51 million people in the United States have filed for benefits since mid-March, according to the BLS. That represents workers affected by both temporary and permanent layoffs due to coronavirus.

Michigan’s unemployment rate in June was 14.8 percent, down 6.5 percentage points from May. Five states have a higher unemployment rate: California (14.9), Nevada (15), New York (15.7), New Jersey (16.6), and Massachusetts (17.4).

Meanwhile, the U.S. rate was 11.1 percent in June. New details for July unemployment will be updated on Aug. 21.

So far, at least 2.4 million Michigan residents have filed for jobless benefits since the coronavirus prompted business shutdowns and a statewide stay-at-home order in March. At least 500,000 are receiving ongoing payments. 

Jobless payments no longer include an additional $600 per week through the federal CARES Act. Congress continues to negotiate the next step in unemployment relief, following an executive order by President Donald Trump that would add up to $400 weekly to payments, with 25 percent of that coming from state unemployment insurance funds.

In Michigan, the maximum benefit is $362 per week. The average payout was $325 in April, before part-time and “gig” economy workers were allowed into the system through the CARES Act. — Paula Gardner

Wednesday, Aug. 12

Cases decline

At 517 new confirmed coronavirus cases, Michigan reported the fewest midweek cases in nearly three weeks on Wednesday.

The total brings to 89,271 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March. The state reported nine new deaths, bringing that total to 6,273.

Only Macomb County, with 112 new cases, exceeded 100. Suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 82.

Seven of Michigan’s 83 counties reported one case while 43 reported none.

Statewide, the 517 cases represent five new cases per 100,000 people. In harder hit southern states, cases rates are far higher: Georgia has reported 37 per 100,000 this week,  according to the Washington Post, while Florida reported 32 and Alabama reported 30 per 100,000. 

Nationwide, the rate was 12 cases per 100,000 on Tuesday. — Mike Wilkinson

Tuesday, Aug. 11

Confirmed cases rise by almost 800 on outbreak among inmates

A coronavirus outbreak among Michigan prison inmates pushed the state’s new daily cases to almost 800 on Tuesday, the highest number since July 29.

The Michigan Department of Corrections had 181 new cases on Tuesday and they follow an outbreak of hundreds of other positive cases at the Muskegon prison.

The state reported five deaths on Tuesday and two prior deaths that are now determined to be COVID-19 related, bringing the total to 6,264 since the beginning of the pandemic. There are now 88,756 confirmed coronavirus cases and another 9,457 probable cases. — Mike Wilkinson

Fall sports canceled at U-M, MSU

Fall sports won’t take place this year at the University of Michigan or Michigan State University following a decision on Tuesday by the Big Ten Conference.

The 2020-21 fall sports season, including all regular-season contests and Big Ten Championships and Tournaments, was postponed due to ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement by the conference. 

The decision came days after the Mid-American Conference also announced that it would postpone its fall sports, with Central, Western and Eastern Michigan universities all affected by that decision. 

“It became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in the statement.

Colleges across the country are making decisions about how they’ll shape the fall semester amid coronavirus. Many in Michigan are announcing online classes or hybrid classes with only a portion of classes offered in person. They’re also releasing the steps they’re taking to allow students and staff on campus, with schools like MSU saying this week that they expect all students and staff to fill out daily health screening forms before they step onto the property.

The Big Ten comprises 14 schools that compete in Division 1-A. Collectively, just the schools’ football programs generate over $1 billion in revenue. Other fall sports affected are men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. 

“This latest decision was reached after careful consideration and the grim knowledge that this pandemic continues to affect our country adversely,” said Warde Manuel, U-M’s athletic director. “I am deeply saddened for our student-athletes and remain committed to our ongoing promise to provide them with a world-class education. We remain grateful to our global Michigan family for their unwavering support.”

President Donald Trump has urged athletic conferences to preserve the fall season, tweeting on Monday, “Play College Football.” Cases of coronavirus in the U.S. reached 5.1 million this week, and many areas— including Michigan— are seeing increases in disease spread among young people.

Home games are major economic drivers in many Big Ten communities. In Ann Arbor, the spending associated with visitors for games reached an estimated $81.8 million in 2013 — and estimates today put that figure much higher. The economic loss will be felt across the city. Read more > — Paula Gardner

Study: Gaiters, stretchy masks ‘counterproductive’

Not all masks are created the same, and in some cases, some face coverings — gaiters in particular — may help spread droplets that can carry COVID-19, according to a new study.

Testing 14 different face coverings, Duke University researchers determined the “relative droplet spread” varied greatly. The good news: Some easily-accessible cotton masks protected nearly as well as surgical masks.

But when it comes to masks with stretchy, thin material, it may be safer not to wear them at all, according to the researchers, who published their early findings Friday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances.

“We attribute this to the fleece, the textile, breaking up those big particles into many little particles.  They tend to hang around longer in the air and get carried away easier in the air,’ said Martin Fischer, director of Duke’s Advanced Light Imaging and Spectroscopy facility.

Using a laser and a cellphone camera, the team measured the droplet spread as study participants uttered the words “Stay healthy, people” five times while wearing the variety of masks, according to a Duke video explaining the effort.

They concluded that wearing such stretchy, thin materials may be “counterproductive” to curbing COVID-19, Fischer said.

“It’s not a case that any mask is better than nothing. There are some masks that actually hurt rather than do good. — Robin Erb

Monday, Aug. 11

Michigan’s coronavirus count stayed below 600 for the second day in a row Monday, with the state reporting 557 cases and eight new deaths.

The case numbers bring the seven-day average to 653, the level where the state has hovered for six days after more than seven weeks of steady increases.

Metro Detroit’s Oakland County reported the most new cases, 113, on Monday, with Macomb County reporting 112.

The eight deaths raised the overall number to 6,257.

The total number of cases since March is 87,960. Combined with 9,346 probable cases —people with virus symptoms who had contact with a known confirmed cases — the state has 97,306 total cases. — Mike Wilkinson

Michigan Senate to meet Saturday for schools reopening debate

Parents and school administrators hoping for return-to-school rule certainty from state government will have to wait another week.

The Michigan Senate and House are unlikely to meet Wednesday as originally scheduled but are instead planning rare Saturday and Monday sessions, respectively, as lawmakers scramble to finalize rules to govern school districts amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

The debate has already been delayed for more than a week after state Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on July 31 and went into a two-week quarantine. 

It’s not clear if any lawmakers who had contact with Barrett prior to his diagnosis have also self-isolated, but no additional members have tested positive, Senate GOP spokesperson Amber McCann told Bridge.

A Michigan House plan approved last month would require districts to offer in-person instruction to younger students up to Grade 5, but it appears unlikely that Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would sign legislation with that kind of mandate.

Public education groups are asking lawmakers to ditch that plan and focus on relaxing typical rules for student counts and daily attendance to help districts already adopting their own local plans for in-person instruction, online learning or hybrid approaches.  — Jonathan Oosting

Sunday, Aug. 9

Michigan reports 514 new coronavirus cases, 2 deaths

Michigan reported 514 new coronavirus cases Sunday and two deaths, the lowest number of new cases in a week.

Michigan health officials removed three deaths from the state’s COVID-19 tally on Sunday, saying they were removed after local health officials “corrected” prior deaths attributed to the pandemic.

That dropped he state’s overall death toll was reduced to 6,249, down one from Saturday.

The state, in a note on its coronavirus dashboard web page, explained the change.

Two additional deaths were reported today and three cases previously marked as deceased were corrected by local health jurisdictions,” according to the state. “These cases may have been recorded as deceased in error or jurisdictions may have received additional information indicating previously reported deaths were determined to not be COVID-19 associated.” — Mike Wilkinson

Saturday, Aug. 8

After months of either steady declines or increases, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan held steady at 698 Saturday as seven-day averages remained flat just under 700 cases.

Three COVID-19 deaths were reported Saturday, two of which were earlier deaths now ascribed to COVID-19.

Macomb County, the state’s third-most populous county, had the most new cases,136. Oakland County, the second most populous, reported 133 cases. Combined, Wayne County had 130 cases split between the suburbs (99 cases), and Detroit (31).

There was a surge of new tests, with nearly 37,700 completed with a positive rate of 2.8 percent, the lowest since late June. It was the most tests ever reported in a single day. — Mike Wilkinson

Friday, Aug. 7

Macomb County in metro Detroit recorded the most new cases in the state Friday, with 161 cases of the 762 reported cases statewide.

For Macomb, it was the highest single-day case count since April 23 and pushed the county’s seven-day average to 114, well above the seven-day average of 68 three weeks ago.

Oakland County reported 114 new cases and suburban Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 86. The Michigan prison system, which is monitoring an outbreak at its Muskegon prison, reported 62 new cases.

Statewide, there are now 86,191 confirmed cases and 6,247 deaths. No new deaths were reported Friday.— Mike Wilkinson

Thursday, Aug. 6

Virus cases remain relatively steady

New confirmed coronavirus cases hit 722 Thursday, keeping the seven-day average at roughly 650 cases.

Oakland County, which on Wednesday reported an outbreak of cases tied to youth parties and “prom-like” events, reported 144 new cases, the most in the state. Neighboring Macomb County reported 109 cases.

The state also reported 26 deaths: 9 that were new and 17 after a review of prior deaths that determined a direct connection to COVID-19. — Mike Wilkinson

Record-breaking turnout in August primary

Michigan’s primary election Tuesday drew 2.5 million voters — the largest turnout for an August primary in the state. The number surpasses the last record high of 2.2 million voters in the 2018 August primary. 

Nearly two-thirds voted absentee, another record high of 1.6 million beating out the former record of 1.3 million in the 2016 November election. 

“We are really proud that we blew it out of the water and voters really showed up.” Benson said. “It demonstrated even in the midst of a pandemic people want to vote.”

She attributed that success in part to her decision to mail absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters — a controversial move that has raised concerns especially among Republicans who fear it will invite fraud. 

The large number of absentee voters, she said, contributed to calm polling places on Tuesday with no long lines or crowding. 

While four of the state’s largest counties — Wayne, Oakland, Genesee and Ingham — still tabulated votes into Wednesday afternoon and evening, most counties reported results by Wednesday morning, earlier than anticipated due to the more laborious processing requirements for absentee ballots. 

More than 10,000 absentee ballots were rejected in the primary. That’s largely because they either reached the clerk’s office after Election Day or they had an insufficient signature, or other reasons, Benson’s office said. 

She called for legislative changes to improve the voting process for the November election — when two or three times more absentee ballots can be expected and an even higher voter turnout is likely — including allowing absentee ballots received after Election Day to count and allowing some pre-processing of ballots before Election Day. 

She also reiterated that she’s pushing for an additional $15 million in federal funding to help fund more staff, equipment and educational materials ahead of the November election. – Riley Beggin

17,000 more Michigan residents seek unemployment

About 1.18 million Americans filed for jobless benefits during the week that ended Aug.1, including 17,029 Michigan residents, according to numbers released Thursday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s down from the previous week, when 23,219 state residents sought to replace lost wages for the week ending July 25. Nationally, filings dropped by 249,000. 

More than 50 million people since mid-March have filed for benefits because of temporary or permanent layoffs because of the coronavirus, including 2.4 million Michigan residents. At least 500,000 residents statewide are receiving ongoing payments.

Those payments no longer include an additional $600 per week through the federal CARES Act. Congress continues to negotiate the next step in unemployment relief.

In Michigan, the maximum benefit is $362 per week. The average payout was $325 in April, before part-time and “gig” economy workers were allowed into the system through the CARES Act.

Michigan’s unemployment rate in June was 14. 8 percent, down 6.5 percentage points from May. The U.S. rate was 11.1 percent in June. — Paula Gardner

Wednesday, Aug. 5

Top doctor says Michigan cases leveling off

Coronavirus cases in Michigan are beginning to level off, says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive. 

That’s welcome news: Cases have been spiking in the state since mid-June, when the stay-at-home order ended and many businesses began reopening.

On Wednesday afternoon, hours after Khaldun spoke, the state reported 657 new confirmed cases, which lowered the seven-day average to 648. The seven-day average had risen steadily throughout July, rising from 311 on July 1 before hitting 768 on Aug. 1.

The state reported two additional COVID-19 deaths, for a total of 6,221. There have been 84,707 confirmed coronavirus cases.

Khaldun said cases varied across the state: 

  • In the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo areas, health officials are finding about 40 cases per million people every day with cases decreasing in the past three weeks. 
  • The Jackson area and the Upper Peninsula have about 35 cases per million people every day, with cases decreasing over the last two weeks. 
  • In the Saginaw area, there are about 30 cases per million people daily, with cases decreasing over the last week. 
  • In the Lansing area, there are about 30 cases per million people every day but cases have been increasing in the last two weeks. 
  • The Traverse City area is the only region with fewer than 10 cases per million people per day. Their cases have been increasing over the last three weeks. 
  • Testing is remaining steady at about 28,000 tests a day, which means around 2 percent of the population is being tested every week, Khaldun said. Hospitalizations and deaths remain low.

“These are all good signs, and we will continue to monitor these metrics. But as we all know, even if a trend is stabilizing it only takes a few people to create an outbreak and have the disease spread rapidly. So these plateauing trends are not reasons to let our guards down,” she said. 

Outbreaks continue to pop up across the state, Khaldun said. Last week, public health workers investigated 99 new outbreaks — up from 78 the week before. Most outbreaks come from nursing homes and long-term care facilities, social gatherings, and schools, including colleges and day-care centers.

“We have to keep fighting this disease that’s still very present across the state,” Khaldun said. “We’re seeing way too many outbreaks and our cases are not yet low enough to think we can let our guard down even for a moment.” — Riley Beggin and Mike Wilkinson

Tuesday, Aug. 4

Michigan prisons report surge in cases

The Michigan prison system reported 88 new coronavirus infections Tuesday, the most from that agency since late May and part of 664 new cases reported statewide.

The Michigan Department of Corrections tested two housing units last week at its Muskegon prison after some prisoners and staff tested positive, said Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the department.

Gautz said 86 tests came back positive at the Muskegon facility, or nearly half of the 177 tests for which they have results. They are awaiting the results of 270 tests conducted last Friday and intend to test another 700 at the facility that houses over 1,200 inmates.

Gautz said more tests are pending and other prisoners at the Michigan Correctional Facility will be tested. All told, the prison system has recorded over 4,200 positive tests and 69 deaths since March.

The state also reported three new deaths and determined that five prior ones were now attributable to COVID-19.

That brings the total deaths to 6,220. Total confirmed cases are now at 84,050.

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 104 new cases, and Macomb County, which has seen a recent uptick in cases, reported another 91 cases. Oakland County recorded 83.

— Mike Wilkinson

Poll: Half of Michigan says their schools aren’t safe during COVID-19

Half of Michigan residents don’t believe it’s safe for children to return to in-person classroom learning in the coming weeks because of health concerns about the coronavirus, according to a statewide poll conducted by EPIC-MRA for Bridge Michigan.

The poll, conducted July 25-30, found 51 percent of respondents said they didn’t believe their local schools will be safe enough for parents to send their children back to classrooms, while 36 percent said schools would be safe to reopen; 13 percent didn’t know or declined to answer. — Ron French  Read the full story >

Gov. Whitmer orders state police to enforce COVID executive orders

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is beefing up her coronavirus executive orders, requiring Michigan State Police to enforce them like any other law and ordering possible license revocations for violators.

Whitmer’s Tuesday executive directive comes as new coronavirus cases continued to climb since rules were relaxed in mid-June. As of Monday, the state had more than 83,000 confirmed cases, nearly 9,000 probable ones and more than 6,400 deaths.  — Riley Beggin  Read the full story >

Officials: S.E. Mich. high school parties drive COVID-19 spread

Six large gatherings in the South Lyon and Fenton areas in southeast Michigan have helped drive a jump in COVID-19 infections among teens in three counties, health officials said Tuesday.

Many of those affected said they attended high school graduation parties and prom-like events in July, prompting a joint message Tuesday from health leaders in Oakland, Livingston and Genesee counties. They urged parents and teens to consider the risks of large gatherings, and reminded them to wear masks and maintain social-distancing guidelines if they decide to attend.

In Oakland County, COVID-19 cases among 15- to 19-year-olds in the South Lyon area increased from three cases from late June to mid-July to 42 from mid-July to early August. Livingston County cases among the same age group jumped from three cases during late June to mid-July to 19; and in Genesee County, cases among teens climbed from 19 to 94.

Officials also asked residents who attended large gatherings in the South Lyon and Fenton area during mid- to late July to contact a health provider if they develop symptoms. — Robin Erb

Michigan, 5 other states collaborate to boost rapid testing

Michiganders may soon get access to faster COVID-19 testing.

Michigan and five other states will purchase 3 million Rapid Antigen Tests under a six-state bipartisan agreement, along with international philanthropy the Rockefeller Foundation, announced Tuesday.

Michigan, Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio and Virginia have signed a letter of intent with test manufacturers New Jersey-based Becton, Dickinson and Co. and California-based Quidel, to purchase 500,000 FDA-approved antigen tests per state. A type of diagnostic test, an antigen test searches for specific proteins on the surface of the virus, and delivers results in 15 to 20 minutes.

As economies continue to reopen and more Americans are tested regularly for COVID-19, Michiganders have reported waiting days, even a week or more, for test results. 

Such delays can expose others to infections and stymie tracing and containment efforts. Labs have said they are being overwhelmed, forcing states and labs to compete against each other for test kits and supplies.

By collaborating, the states will be able to expand long-term testing in congregate settings such as schools, workplaces and nursing homes, according to the announcement from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office.

Over the last two weeks Michigan has averaged more than 28,000 tests a day, on pace for over 800,000 a month, well above the threshold considered necessary to spot outbreaks. — Robin Erb

Monday, Aug. 3

As cases mount, average age of victims continues to fall

Coronavirus cases continue to rise quickest in Macomb County, with 120 new infections reported there Monday, out of 604 new infections statewide.

The state reported six COVID-19 deaths Monday as well, bringing the total to 6,216. There have been 83,386 confirmed coronavirus infections.

The seven-day average daily case count stands at 697, up from 622 a week ago.

The age of those contracting the virus continues to fall. In early June, 16 percent of all infections were among people under 30 years old. Since then, 40 percent of cases are people under 30. 

People ages 20-29 represent nearly a quarter of all cases in the last two months, up from 12 percent before June 5. And people under 20 make up 16 percent of infections in the last two months, up from 4 percent from March through June.

Wayne County, excluding Detroit, reported 92 new cases Monday and Oakland County reported 84. Kent County reported 32. — Mike Wilkinson

Sunday, Aug. 2

State Sen. Barrett tests positive for COVID; no new deaths

State Sen. Tom Barrett has tested positive for COVID-19, he announced Sunday, indicating he does not have any “significant symptoms” and will self-isolate according to medical protocols.

The Charlotte Republican is a member of the Michigan National Guard and said he was tested Friday during a routine screening required of all soldiers one week prior to departure for a training event. 

“I have done my best to make contact with those I have been around in the past couple weeks so that they may also seek medical advice,” Barrett said in a statement. “I look forward to resuming my normal work schedule as quickly as possible.” 

Barrett is a fierce critic of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pandemic response policies and the first Republican member of the Michigan Legislature to announce he has tested positive for COVID-19.

At least three Democratic lawmakers contracted the virus in March and April, including state Rep. Isaac Robinson, D-Detroit, who died of suspected COVID-19 complications. 

The full Senate did not meet last week but Barrett attended two committee hearings. He is not expected back next week for what is expected to be an important week as legislative leaders and Whitmer attempt to negotiate final rules and regulations for school reopening plans. 

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, has said he hopes to finalize that legislation by Thursday, which is one of only two scheduled session days for the Senate this month. 

“Our immediate focus is on notification to all senators and staff.  We will evaluate the need for changes to the legislative calendar in the coming days,” Shirkey said in a Sunday evening statement.

Barrett’s test results on Sunday triggered a procedure the Senate had established “months ago,” Shirkey said. Senators and staff were notified, and the Senate Business Office is providing appropriate information for follow-up and protocols, he said. 

Barrett and Shirkey are leading proponents of an ongoing petition drive that would repeal a 1945 law Whitmer has used to extend a state of emergency without the Legislature’s blessing. The emergency declaration has allowed Whitmer to issue more than 160 pandemic-related orders since March. — Jonathan Oosting

No new deaths, lowest case count in more than two weeks

Michigan public officials reported no new deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday and 426 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

It was the lowest case count reported since July 13, though weekends typically have had fewer reported cases and deaths; the state had reported 735 confirmed cases on Saturday.

Kent County reported the most new cases, 95, with Oakland County reporting 51.

Overall, the state has reported 82,782 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 6,206 deaths.

The positive test rate was 3.3 percent, still below the 5 percent threshold that public health experts at the World Health Organization suggest a region should remain under prior to reopening parts of the economy. Michigan has remained below 5 percent since May 30.  — Mike Wilkinson

Saturday, Aug. 1

700 cases, seven deaths

For the third day in a row, Michigan health officials reported over 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 735 cases and seven deaths confirmed Saturday.

Michigan now has 82,356 confirmed cases and 6,206 deaths.

Over the past week, Oakland County recorded the most new cases, 893, followed by suburban Wayne County (excluding Detroit) with 852 cases and Macomb County with 775.

Michigan’s seven-day average hit 768, the highest since May 4.

Of the seven deaths added Saturday, four were attributed to earlier deaths where a subsequent review of records indicated it was a COVID-19 death.

Testing results showed that 3.4 percent of more than 33,600 tests were positive. — Mike Wilkinson

Friday, July 31

Whitmer vetoes GOP bill on nursing home COVID-19 guidelines

Facing criticism over her nursing home policies during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed a Republican bill that would have prohibited COVID-19 patients from being moved into nursing homes and established COVID-only facilities.

In a two-page letter to the state Senate, Whitmer argued the bill, introduced by Sen. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township,  failed to protect Michigan seniors and their families. 

Rather, it is “based on the false premise that isolation units created within existing facilities are somehow insufficient to protect seniors—a claim unsupported by the data and refuted by the nation’s highest authorities on infectious disease,” she wrote.

“Instead of protecting seniors, this bill would require the state to create COVID-19-only facilities, forcing hospitals and many nursing homes to send COVID-19-positive patients to such facilities without any requirement for consent, doctor approval, or notification to the patient or their family.”

The bill would have banned nursing homes from taking COVID-positive patients unless they had recovered from the virus or the facility had a separate building in which to provide care for them.

Whitmer has been under fire from the Republican-led legislature for her handling of nursing home policy. About one-third of the state’s more than 6,000 deaths were among residents in long-term care.

Whitmer closed nursing homes to visitors on March 13, three days after Michigan confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19. A month later, with hospital capacity dwindling in metro Detroit, she signed an order that required nursing homes to accept “medically stable” patients previously hospitalized for COVID-19, so long as the facilities had set up isolation units and had access to adequate personal protection equipment, which was in short supply at the time. — Robin Erb

734 new cases, eight deaths

Coronavirus cases in Michigan continue to climb and are now at levels last seen in early May, with 734 new confirmed cases reported Friday, a day the state also reported eight confirmed deaths.

The new cases bring the seven-day average to 726, a level not seen since May 5 as the state was still under full lockdown and case counts were rapidly falling.

Macomb County in metro Detroit reported 130 new cases, the highest in the state, pushing that county’s seven-day average to 97, 64 percent higher than it had been two weeks earlier.

Oakland (115 cases) and suburban Wayne (98) had the next highest amount of cases. Kent County reported 50 new cases, but its seven-day average of 58 is below what it was two weeks ago (71).

Testing crested 31,000 for just the third time, with 3.5 percent of cases coming back positive. Public health experts have said the goal is to keep the positive rate below 5 percent.

Thursday, July 30

715 new cases, 19 deaths

Michigan reported 715 new coronavirus cases Thursday, driven largely by increases in metro Detroit. There were 19 deaths reported Thursday, 14 of which were the result of a review of earlier death records.

Wayne County, outside of Detroit, reported 166 new cases on Thursday, with another 69 in Detroit while Oakland (148) and Macomb (132) were the second- and third-highest counties.

In the last five days Wayne County has averaged 150 new cases, up from 85 cases the previous five days. Statewide, the seven-day average is at 706, up more than 100 cases from two weeks ago.

Hospital data indicate a small reduction in the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients, with 438 on Thursday, down from 452 on July 17. In early April, in contrast, nearly 4,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized statewide.

However, the number of confirmed and suspected COVID patients is rising, up to 727 on Thursday from 680 two weeks ago. The largest increase was reported in the Henry Ford Health System based in metro Detroit, which rose from 87 cases to 150 over those two weeks. — Mike Wilkinson

Hospitals lose $3.2 billion, report says

Michigan hospitals lost nearly $3.2 billion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

The six-page report doesn’t break down the losses by hospital or health system, and it relies on self-reporting by the association’s member hospitals from March through mid-June. 

Federal funding will help. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, Michigan hospitals received $2.1 billion in assistance, according to the report titled “Michigan’s Front Line of Defense.” Additionally, Medicare advanced some payments to hospitals, although those funds must be repaid by the end of 2020, according to the hospital association’s spokesperson, John Karasinski.

Still, the remaining $1.1 billion deficit is a “steep price” for hospitals’ efforts in treating the deadly virus, association CEO Brian Peters said in the report.

Hospitals across the state canceled and delayed medical procedures at the same time they faced unexpected expenses for staffing and personal protective equipment, contributing $2.7 billion to the losses, according to the report.

Another $440 million in emergency expenses added more red ink. On April 10, the peak of the surge, Michigan hospitals were caring for 4,700 COVID-19 patients — 1,700 of them in intensive care.

The report also predicted the remaining $1.1 billion deficit will continue to grow as Michigan’s newly unemployed lose health coverage and turn to hospitals for uncompensated care or are covered by Medicaid, which generally reimburses hospitals at a lower rate than employer-sponsored health care.

Wednesday, July 29

Michigan’s total confirmed cases of the coronavirus surpassed 80,000 Wednesday, with 996 new confirmed infections in the state, bringing the total to 80,172. 

Not all new diagnoses occurred in the past 24 hours. Among Wednesday’s newly reported cases, 300 were attributed to backlogged commercial lab results. 

The added cases brings the seven-day average for new cases to 703 — the highest average since May 5. 

Wayne County outside of Detroit had 231 new cases, Oakland County had 178, and both Macomb County and the city of Detroit had 109; 63 percent of all the newly reported cases Wednesday came from those 4 places. 

Two new COVID-19 deaths were reported Wednesday, making a total of 6,172 deaths since the pandemic began in Michigan in March. 

COVID-19 outbreak tied to Michigan church camp

About 40 employees and camp counselors contracted COVID-19 at a central Michigan church camp, health officials confirmed Wednesday to Bridge Magazine. 

Roughly 30 of this group decided to ride out their two-week quarantine by remaining on site, which is now closed to campers, according to the medical director for the health department covering Gladwin County.

“The owners of the camp are being wonderful,” said Dr. Jennifer Morse, medical director of the Central Michigan District Public Health Department. “They’re caring for them, watching them, and we’re in contact with them numerous times a day.”

Gladwin health officials confirmed the outbreak at The Springs Ministries Camp. The camp had been held July 12-17 and July 19-23 and involved about 230 campers, according to news reports.

On its website, Springs Ministries said it has canceled the final two weeks of camp after a camper tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home during the first July camp week.

“We were informed on Wednesday July 22. Since then we have tested staff and have had many test positive as well,” according to the post.

That prompted testing among camp staff still on site. None of those tested have been severely ill, but some were “a little tired or had scratchy throats,” Morse said.

She said the confirmed cases were “very mild” and involved “teenagers and young adults” for the most part.

She said the camp owners notified all the campers’ families and shared email addresses with public health officials so they could begin contact tracing for campers who had since returned to their homes. Health officials have twice encouraged campers to be tested, and there have been some positive results among them. Still, campers are the “minority” of cases, she said.

Michiganders can enroll in COVID-19 vaccine trial 

A Detroit-based hospital system is now enrolling volunteers in a study to test whether a vaccine developed by the Massachusetts-based biotech company, Moderna, is effective in preventing COVID-19.

The Henry Ford Health System is one of nearly 90 U.S. systems participating in the Moderna mRNA-1273 Coronavirus Efficacy (COVE) study, and it’s the only system in Michigan, according to the National Institutes of Health. Together, the network will enroll 30,000 volunteers in the randomized double-blind study to test the effectiveness of the two-dose vaccine against coronavirus.

While vaccines for viruses usually are made from a weakened or inactive virus, the Moderna vaccine is made from messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), a genetic code that instructs cells how to make protein. This “spike” protein, in turn, is part of the virus and is believed to trigger the body’s immune system, according to Moderna.

Earlier stages of the study have shown the vaccine to be safe and to produce antibodies. This third phase will determine whether it provides protection against COVID-19. Henry Ford is registering participtants who are over 18 who are not immune-compromised or pregnant or planning to become pregnant, Participants also may not have had COVID-19, nor received treatment for it.

Each participant will receive either the vaccine or placebo, a sterile saline solution, receiving the second dose about a month after the first. The participants will visit an enrollment site five more times and talk to study coordinators about 24 times over two years. They will be monitored for symptoms of COVID-19 and will be tested to determine whether they develop antibodies to protect them from the coronavirus. Any volunteer diagnosed with COVID-19 during their time in the study will be given “the highest level of care,” according to the announcement by Henry Ford.

Tuesday, July 28

There were 669 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Michigan Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the state since the pandemic struck the state to 79,176. 

The seven-day average for new cases is now 639, up from 622 the previous two days. 

The largest number of new cases today come from Wayne County, with 124. Macomb and Oakland counties followed, with 71 and 68 cases respectively. Among Tuesday’s newly reported cases, 9 percent (61 cases) were out-of-state visitors. 

State officials reported 16 additional COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, but only five occurred in the past 24 hours. Eleven deaths were identified in a vital records review and reclassified as being related to the Coronavirus. 

Since March, Michigan has suffered a total of 6,170 coronavirus-related deaths.

Monday, July 27

There were 488 new confirmed cases of coronavirus reported Monday, with the rolling seven-day average holding steady at 622. 

The highest number of new cases were in Macomb County (92), Oakland (71), and Wayne (53). 

Five additional COVID-19 deaths were reported Monday — marking a full month of 10 or fewer daily confirmed deaths. 

In total since the pandemic struck Michigan in March, there have been 78,507 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 6,154 deaths.

Sunday, July 26

Michigan reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday and no new deaths, the result of a reporting backlog that caused test results over two days to be combined.

Michigan reported 437 cases Saturday, but several test results were delayed due to numerous technical issues, so that number was lower than the true count. 

Instead, some tests taken Friday night and Saturday, which were not reported in time for Saturday’s report, were included in Sunday’s 1,041 new confirmed cases. 

There were six new confirmed coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday, and none on Sunday. 

The largest number of new cases this weekend were in Oakland County, (249 new cases), followed by Wayne (202), Kent (164), and Macomb (138). 

Also, on Saturday, eight previous deaths were reclassified as being related to the coronavirus, while 16 other deaths were removed from the total death count. 

The state said the decrease in the death total was due to manual data entry errors, in which some people who were originally classified as dead were in fact alive.

Since the pandemic began, Michigan has had 78,019 coronavirus cases and 6,149 deaths.

Friday, July 24

Whitmer extends executive order limiting visitors

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended an executive order Thursday limiting visitors into health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities and juvenile justice facilities. 

The decision to extend the restriction comes as a disappointment to some; Limited visitation options in long-term care facilities present a challenge for Michigan residents who in some cases have been separated from family members since the pandemic began in March. 

“This executive order protects more long-term care facility residents and staff, including the most vulnerable residents in our nursing homes,” Whitmer said in a news release. “I know seniors and their families are making sacrifices every day during this crisis, and moving forward, I will work closely with the Michigan Nursing Homes COVID-19 Preparedness Task Force to protect our most vulnerable communities, the heroes on the front lines, and our families from this virus.” 

The executive order also states that the Department of Health and Human Services is authorized to gradually re-open visitation as circumstances permit. The order is effective immediately and continues through Aug. 31.


State reports 594 new cases

Michigan reported 594 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths related to the pandemic Friday. This is the 27th consecutive day that new deaths have been 10 or less. 

The seven-day average is now 577, a slight decrease from Thursday, and the lowest average in the past 10 days. 

Macomb County had the largest number of new cases, with 102, followed by Wayne County with 86 and Oakland County with 66. 

Since the pandemic hit Michigan in March, Michigan has had 76,541 cases and 6,151 deaths

Thursday, July 23

There were 699 new confirmed COVID-19 infections reported in Michigan Thursday, the highest number of new cases in Michigan since July 15. It is also the second-highest number of cases so far in July.

There have been 75,947 total confirmed cases of coronavirus in Michigan since the pandemic struck the state in March.

The seven-day average is now 586. It is the 13th consecutive day with seven-day averages that surpassed 500. 

There was one death attributed to COVID-19, and six additional previous deaths identified as caused by the virus. In total, there have been 6,148 deaths from the virus in Michigan. 

Wednesday, July 22

There were 523 new cases of coronavirus reported in Michigan Wednesday. 

The seven-day average dipped to 579, the lowest the average has been since July 15, though still much higher than most of June. Since July 11, all seven-day averages have surpassed 500. 

Additional daily deaths attributed to the coronavirus continue to be much lower than at the height of the pandemic in the state. The six deaths reported Wednesday mark the 14th consecutive day that death counts have been in single digits. 

To date, there have been 75,248 total confirmed cases and 6,141 deaths in Michigan attributed to the coronavirus. 

Tuesday, July 21

On Tuesday, 573 new confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported in Michigan. This is the eleventh time this month that new cases surpassed 500. 

The seven-day average is at 631. This is a slight decrease in the upward trend of the seven-day averages for the past month. 

There were five additional deaths attributed to COVID-19. An additional four previous deaths were determined to be caused by the virus. 

To date, there have been 74,725 confirmed cases and 6,135 deaths from coronavirus in Michigan. © All rights reserved. | Newsphere by AF themes.