The state’s seven-day case average of newly reported cases remained above 7,000 for nearly two weeks, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins University data, before falling slightly to 6,891 on Tuesday.
At the end of November, when Michigan was at the center of a fresh rise in infections that would eventually encompass the entire nation, the state averaged more than 7,000 cases a day for 10 days. Cases then dropped before briefly peaking again in early December and then fell for the next two months, to the low 1,000s. Since then, cases have been on the rise and remained near previous highs.
Hospitalizations and daily deaths have also been increasing, but those rises aren’t nearly as steep as the ones seen during the previous surge. Both are lagging indicators that can trail behind new infections by weeks.
Still, some hospitals have seen an inundation of patients. Beaumont Health, Michigan’s largest healthcare system, delivered an urgent warning last week that hospitals and staff have hit critical capacity levels, asking residents to take steps to stop the spread of the virus.
“Our Covid-19 numbers are climbing higher and faster, and it’s very troubling and alarming to see this,” Beaumont Health Chief Executive John Fox said Thursday. “We cannot do this alone. We need everyone’s help immediately.”
The number of Covid-19 patients jumped from 128 on Feb. 28, to more than 800 patients as of April 15. Two weeks ago, Beaumont Health was caring for about 500 Covid-19 patients, it said.
Vikas Parekh, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, said the rising caseload is due to several factors including reopenings, which increased people’s interactions and their mobility just as the highly contagious U.K. variant, known as B.1.1.7, was starting to spread in the state.
“The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet,” Dr. Parekh said. “As the B.1.1.7 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other states see their own surges—although I hope none are as bad as Michigan.”
Dr. Parekh said he believes cases, as well as hospitalizations, have plateaued and will likely decline soon. “Positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline,” he said.
The state has said younger people and youth sports, including basketball, wrestling and hockey, are part of the reason cases have been spreading.
Earlier this month,
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
urged high-school classes to go remote for two weeks and called for a halt to both youth sports and indoor dining, but stopped short of mandating new restrictions.
The Democratic governor also asked the federal government to send extra vaccine doses to the state. The White House hasn’t committed to supplying more shots to the state, but has sent more Covid-19 tests and therapeutics as well as personnel to help speed up vaccinations. Current vaccine distribution is based on states’ adult populations.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director
has said vaccinations could take two to six weeks to have an effect and a more immediate way to stop the spread is to use methods such as testing, contact tracing and to “shut things down.”
Write to Talal Ansari at Talal.Ansari@wsj.com
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Source: WSJ – US News