COVID-19 cases in Michigan expected to rise in May in latest forecast for infections

From graduation and prom, to school getting out and the spring event schedule kicking into high gear, the time for group gatherings is about to pick up again.

That means an expected rise in COVID-19 cases in Michigan, warns the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The current strain, which is actually a subvariant of omicron is expected to push cases back up in the state. 

However, even with the expected rise, MDHHS doesn't believe hospitalizations or mortality will rise significantly with an expected increase in cases. 

The subvariant BA.2 is considered more transmissible than omicron, which was present during the most previous surge in cases in Michigan last winter. It's one of the main culprits behind Michigan's latest climb in cases - an uptick of about 300 average cases a day since last week.

While the increase is to be expected, "the good news is we have excellent, effective tools to travel safely and gather with loved ones and prevent severe outcomes from COVID-19," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive.

As a precaution, residents are advised to stock up on tests, masks, and make a COVID-19 plan. 

"We encourage Michigan residents to make a COVID-19 plan: have masks and over-the-counter tests on hand, speak to your physician ahead of time to find out if you qualify for treatments if you are infected and make sure you are up-to-date on vaccines," Bagdasarian said. "We recommend Michiganders test if they have symptoms or if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, and stay home if they are ill."

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On April 20, Michigan reported 10,474 cases over the past seven days - about 1,496 a day. The week before, it reported 1,104 cases a day. 

However, deaths have continued to decline even as cases have ticked up. Hospitalizations have remained stagnant since the beginning of April.

Health officials say a combination of vaccination rates, boosters, and immunity from the latest Covid spike will play a role in keeping severe outcomes due to an infection from rising significantly.

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However, anyone who does participate in a group activity is encouraged to get tested prior to participating - especially if vulnerable populations will be in attendance.  

Over-the-counter tests will remain free to students in Michigan schools through the state's MI Backpack Home Test Program. The Biden administration has also set up a rapid COVID-19 test kit program that will ship two tests to homes in the U.S.

Libraries also carry COVID-19 tests.