Michigan’s COVID-19 numbers continue to rise
Tue, 04/06/2021 - 11:55am caleb
State officials report that ‘Michigan currently has the highest COVID-19 cases per capita in the country’ and they urge people to get tested after spring break travel
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
COVID-19 numbers in Michigan – including case rates and hospitalizations – are increasing in the state, according to multiple sources, and state government officials reported on Friday, April 2, that “Michigan currently has the highest COVID-19 cases per capita in the country.”
Munson Healthcare, which runs several hospitals and healthcare facilities in northern Michigan (including Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital), did not conduct its weekly online press conference update last week, but the Munson Healthcare COVID-19 Tracker web page shows a steady increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations that began in late February.
With a total of 82 COVID-19 inpatients in six Munson Healthcare facilities – Cadillac Hospital, Charlevoix Hospital, Grayling Hospital, Manistee Hospital, Munson Medical Center, and Otsego Memorial Hospital – as of April 2, according to Munson Healthcare’s COVID-19 Tracker, hospitalizations are spiking to levels last seen in northern Michigan during a surge in November and December of 2020. Sixteen of the 82 COVID-19 inpatients are listed as being at Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital.
In early February of 2021, COVID-19 hospitalization numbers at Munson Healthcare facilities were in the 20s after a surge into the 80s in late November and into the month of December.
“At Thanksgiving time to the first week of December we were in the 80s and now we’re down to 23, which is really positive trending. We hope to see that continue,” said Dr. James Whelan, Munson Clinically Integrated Network Medical Director, during Munson Healthcare’s weekly online update on Tuesday, February 2.
The “positive trending” continued for a few weeks.
Munson Healthcare reported “good news on the numbers front” during its online press conference on Tuesday, February 9.
“We have seen a steady decline in our percent positive in our community. For the last two days we’ve been below five percent and we have not been there since October,” said Dr. Christine Nefcy, Munson Healthcare Chief Medical Officer, on Tuesday, February 9.
Later in the month, on Tuesday, February 23, Munson Healthcare officials said that the region’s COVID-19 numbers “continue to trend in the right direction.”
“Our percent positive rate and our cases per 100,000 continue to decline and head in the right direction. Along with that decline in our number of community cases we have seen a significant decline in the number of inpatients,” Dr. Nefcy said on Tuesday, February 23.
During Munson Healthcare’s first online press conference in March, officials reported a slight increase in some of the COVID-19 numbers in the region.
“We’re at about a 3.5 percent positivity rate, which is slightly up from where we were last week,” Dr. Nefcy said on Tuesday, March 2. “That has resulted also in a slight increase in our number of inpatient cases we have across the Munson Healthcare system. This number has been steady for the past few days, but again is up slightly from where we were last week.”
Dr. Nefcy also reported a “slight uptick” in COVID-19 hospitalizations during the March 2 update.
A week later, during Munson Healthcare’s online press conference on Tuesday, March 9, healthcare officials from multiple agencies expressed concern that the “slight uptick” was the beginning of another COVID-19 surge.
“We have seen a slow but steady increase in the numbers in northern Michigan over the last week or so. We are currently at a 4.2 percent positivity rate and have 196 cases per 100,000, which is up from last week,” Dr. Nefcy said on March 9. “We currently have 27 patients hospitalized across the Munson Healthcare system with COVID-19. That is an increase over what we saw last week. As our numbers have increased in the community we have seen a follow increase in the number of patients hospitalized.”
During the question and answer portion of the March 9 press conference, Dr. Nefcy addressed specific questions about whether or not the increases in test positivity rates and hospitalizations could be the beginning of another COVID-19 spike.
“It certainly appears that we are seeing the start of one,” Dr. Nefcy said on March 9.
Dr. Nefcy said “with clusters we’re seeing and the new variants and spring break coming it’s kind of a perfect storm to lead to that surge.”
Dr. Jennifer Morse, District Health Department #10 Medical Director, agreed.
“I think we’re headed for another spike, probably mid-April if we’re not cautious with the different variants, increased gatherings, and travel that we’re seeing,” Dr. Morse said on March 9.
The March 16 Munson Healthcare update included more information on rising numbers.
“We are currently at a 5.2 percent infectivity rate in the community, which is done on a cumulative two-week rolling average, and we are at 240 cases per 100,000. We reported last week that we had seen an uptick in our numbers and this week, unfortunately, we are continuing to see the same trend with an increase both in the number of cases we’re seeing in the community as well as our cases of hospitalized patients,” Dr. Nefcy said on March 16. “We are now trending back up in the numbers, so certainly not the direction we would like to be headed.”
During Munson Healthcare’s latest update on Tuesday, March 23, health officials continued to report increasing COVID-19 numbers in northern Michigan.
“I’ve been reporting over the past couple of weeks a slow increase and I’m sorry to say that that increase has gone up and continues to rise a little bit more steeply. The important numbers are our percent positive, which is up to 7.3 percent. We were at 5.2 percent last week. We have 365 cases per 100,000. Last week we had 240. That is impacting our inpatient numbers. We currently are at 53 positive inpatients. We had 29 at the same time last week, so the percent positive we are seeing in our communities is impacting our inpatient numbers at all of our hospitals across the region,” Dr. Nefcy said on March 23.
An April 2 press release from the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel commending “Michigan food service establishments” for following the state laws and adapting to safely serve the public also included a note about the state’s rising COVID-19 numbers.
“According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Michigan currently has the highest COVID-19 cases per capita in the country,” according to the April 2 press release.
The Centers for Disease Control’s website – on Friday, April 2 – showed the state of Michigan as having 398.5 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. Michigan’s 39,801 cases in the last seven days – as of April 2 – were among the highest in the United States.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials – in a press release dated April 2 – urged people to get tested for COVID-19 as they return from spring break trips.
“Students and families traveling across Michigan, to other states, or out of the country risk being exposed to and carrying COVID-19 with them. This in turn could fuel outbreaks within their households and the communities where they live or visit,” state officials said.
“Brighter days are ahead with vaccinations being available to all Michiganders as of April 5; however, there are still critical efforts we must take to slow the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 remains a threat to our families and communities, and we encourage Michiganders to get tested,” Governor Whitmer said.