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COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations continue to fall across Michigan


The coronavirus’s footprint in Michigan continues to shrink.

During a Wednesday Zoom call with reporters, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services presented datashowing statewide declines in COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations, and the percentage of tests coming back positive during the week that ended December 19.

Percent positivity across the state dropped to 10%. The amount of space being used up in ICUs fell 16%, while total COVID hospitalizations were down 30% from their peak on December 1.

Michigan’s case rate ranks 43rd among the states, one of the lowest in the nation and an improvement over the previous week.

Sarah Lyon-Callo is the director of MDHHS’s Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health.

She says data from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that people are spending more time at home compared to last year, but she warned against easing up on that infection-curbing behavior.

“We have seen in different countries in Europe where they were able to bring their case numbers down from a second surge, but unfortunately saw a resurgence again,” she said. “So we’re eager to make sure that Michigan does not follow this pattern.”

Average daily deaths from COVID continued to climb over the week ending December 19, but Lyon-Callo says that’s expected in the weeks following an increase in cases and hospitalizations, and that the rate of increase was slowing.

Nevertheless, the current death rate is more than 10 times what it was in early October, and the current case rate is four times what it was.

Lyon-Callo also used a new MDHHS dashboard to show what progress the state has made in administering doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

As of Monday, almost 27,000 vaccine doses had been administered in Michigan, most of them from Pfizer. 

303 hospitals, pharmacies, and local health departments had enrolled in Michigan’s distribution plan as of last Friday. That’s in addition to the 5,320 long-term care facilities in the state that have signed up to receive doses from either Walgreens or CVS as part of a federal program.

When asked about the COVID-19 variant recently discovered in the UK, Lyon-Callo said it had not yet been detected in Michigan, but that it appears to be more contagious.

“We do not have any evidence that it will impact vaccination effectiveness at this time or cause more severe disease at this time,” she said. “So we’re going to continue to monitor for that variant in the state.”

The slides from Lyon-Callo’s presentation are available here.

Will Callan, a reporter for Michigan Radio, hails from the Bay Area, where he lived in Oakland and San Francisco and reported for local newspapers and magazines. He enjoys a long swim in chilly water (preferably followed by a sauna) and getting to know new cities. That's one reason he's excited to be in Ann Arbor, which he can already tell has just the right combo of urban grit and natural beauty to make him feel at home.
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