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Michigan has 6th highest number of COVID-19 cases in nation, 5th highest deaths

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The spread of novel coronavirus is rampant in Michigan right now, making every trip to the grocery store, every visit to a loved one, a risky endeavor.

The state now ranks sixth nationally in coronavirus cases and fifth for the number of COVID-19 related deaths, said Sarah Lyon-Callo, director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, citing data from the last seven days.

"We have the 10th highest hospitalization rate as percent of total beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and the sixth highest number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU (intensive care units)" in the nation, she said in a news conference Wednesday, detailing where the state stands with the pandemic.

In the last week alone, the state amassed 48,757 new confirmed cases — a number it took Michigan more than two months to reach at the start of the pandemic, state data show. It wasn't until mid-May before the state had accumulated that many confirmed COVID-19 cases.

So far 272,034 Michiganders have contracted the virus and 8,128 have died.

Michigan's contact tracing system is "becoming overwhelmed" said Lyon-Callo, urging people to download the new MI COVID Alert app to get notifications of close contacts who've later tested positive for the virus. More than 280,000 people have already signed up.

Only one-third of new coronavirus cases in the state said they were in quarantine prior to their diagnosis, which suggests, Lyon-Callo said, "when people are most infectious, they are unfortunately not in quarantine and can be infecting other people."

The massive spike in new cases, means COVID-19 related hospitalizations are doubling every 2 1/2 to three weeks and deaths are also rising.

"Cases and deaths are rising at all age groups, and among all racial and ethnic groups that we we record data for," Lyon-Callo said.

"The mortality rate will continue to climb even if we bring case rates down now. Mortality rates tend to go up a couple weeks after ... the case rates have increased."

There are 980 COVID-19 outbreaks under investigation, a 32% increase from the previous week, with the most in long-term care facilities, K-12 schools and sports, manufacturing and construction settings, college campuses, bars and restaurants and retail as well as social gatherings, she said.

The grim statistics led public health officials to put in place sweeping new three-week restrictions statewide that took effect at midnight Wednesday and continue through Dec. 8.

In-person classes at high schools and colleges statewide are suspended along with eat-in dining at restaurants and bars.

The new public health order includes the cancellation of organized sports and group exercise classes, though gyms may remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures, and professional and college athletics may continue.

Casinos and movie theaters, indoor ice rinks, bowling alleys and bingo halls also will have to temporarily shut down, and all businesses are asked to allow employees to work from home if possible.

Gatherings inside homes are limited to two households at any time and health officials strongly urge families to pick a single other household to interact with over the next three weeks.

"We are in the worst moment of this pandemic to date," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Sunday in announcing the restrictions. "The situation has never been more dire. We are at the precipice and we need to take some action because as the weather gets colder and people spend more time indoors, the virus will spread, more people will get sick, and there will be more fatalities."

The Detroit Free Press, Bridge Michigan and Michigan Radio have teamed up to report on Michigan hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. If you work in a Michigan hospital, we would love to hear from you. You can contact Kristen Jordan Shamus at kshamus@freepress.com, Robin Erb at rerb@bridgemi.com or Kate Wells at Katwells@umich.edu.

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