Michigan's COVID-19 cases fall, but deaths climb to 275 over last week – Detroit News

The state experienced a large decline in COVID-19 cases while the number of deaths more than doubled in the past week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.
The state added 8,933 cases of COVID-19 over the past week, with 275 deaths, according to the state agency. Michigan reported an average of about 1,276 cases per day over the last seven days, a 30% decline from a daily average of 1,837 cases a week prior. However, deaths from the virus more than doubled this last week.
On Nov. 16, the state said it had added 12,860 cases and 123 deaths from the virus in the previous week. The state tally does not include those who test positive with an at-home test.
Holiday travel this year will be just shy of pre-pandemic levels, experts predict, with Americans opting for warmer weather and destinations like Florida and Cancun to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Dr. Preeti Malani, infectious disease professor at Michigan Medicine, told The Detroit News that she’s concerned there will be an increase in cases in the coming weeks over the holidays.
“COVID numbers are OK in Michigan. Hospitals are not overwhelmed. There, our biggest concern is children and RSV,” she said. “This is a pretty good place considering where we were last year and the year before. It’s a happy Thanksgiving for Michigan but there are a plethora of people who have not gotten their most recent booster and that protections seems durable. Get a flu shot if you haven’t had that because it’s a pretty good match this year.”
She reiterated those adults, or children, who are not feeling well should stay home rather than gathering.
“I’m still concerned we will see an increase in cases in the coming weeks as it gets colder and if not COVID, it could be flu or RSV,” she said.
On the note of deaths doubling this week, Malani isn’t concerned.
“People are not dying in hospitals like they were in the last few years. Many of these deaths are just correcting records. You have to interpret them with caution. People are still dying of COVID but the numbers are also including cases they’ve gone back and labeled. It’s not that the pandemic is over but we have tools to manage it,” she said. “Always think, how can we do the things that are important to us in a way that’s as safe as possible.”
On Monday, the state reported that 857 adults and 16 pediatric patients were hospitalized with confirmed infections, a decrease from last week’s 942 adults and 19 children. Inpatient records were set on Jan. 10, when 4,580 adults were hospitalized with COVID-19.
On Monday in Michigan, about 6% of the state’s hospital beds were filled with COVID-19 patients, and there was an average of 1,209 emergency room visits related to COVID-19 per day in the state. That compares with 24% of hospital beds being full and 2,889 daily emergency room visits due to the virus in the first week of January.
All Metro Detroit health departments are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that recommend indoor masking for public settings and K-12 schools as the rate of infection has grown from “medium” to “high.”
Tuesday’s additions bring the state’s overall totals to 2,929,612 cases and 39,972 deaths since the virus was first detected here in March 2020.
The federal Food and Drug Administration in September signed off on updated versions of the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) gave its approval, as did CDC director Rochelle Walensky and is now available in Michigan. 
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As of last Monday, only Dickinson County in the U.P. is considered at a “high level” for the increased burden on health care or severe disease. Thirty-nine Michigan counties have a “medium” transmission level, according to the state health department.
Case counts are well below early January, when the state set a new high mark with more than 20,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per day.
In Michigan, variants of the virus have moved at a high rate, proving more contagious than past variants and infecting unvaccinated and vaccinated residents.
A new iteration of the omicron variant, BA.5, now is the dominant strain across the country, thanks to its elusiveness when encountering the human immune system. The size of that wave is unclear because most people are testing at home or not testing at all. 
Antibodies from vaccines and previous COVID-19 infections offer limited protection against BA.5, leading experts to call it “the worst version of the virus that we’ve seen.”
In Michigan, 319 cases of a rare inflammatory condition in children linked with the coronavirus have been reported to the CDC. About 63% of kids with the syndrome are admitted to intensive care units, and there have been five deaths.
As of Monday, 48 outbreaks were reported over the prior week, 39 of which were reported in long-term care facilities and six outbreaks in K-12 schools. The state is tracking 418 ongoing outbreak cases.
About 68.9% of state residents, or 6.9 million, have received their first doses of a vaccine, and more than 60% are fully vaccinated. More than 252,000 children ages 5-11 in Michigan, or 31%, have received their first dose of the vaccine.
More than 3.5 million individuals, or 38% of the eligible population, have received a vaccine booster.
srahal@detroitnews.com

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