COVID-19 in Michigan: Deaths climb, cases spike as state works to vaccinate more people

Michigan’s COVID-19 cases are continuing to spike as deaths tick back up.

Health officials provided an update on the state’s virus numbers Wednesday, highlighting that Michigan has the most cases and highest case rate in the country.

In addition to cases, deaths, and hospital bed utilization are also increasing.

Case numbers

The number of positive cases is up 348% since a low on Feb. 19, while the case rates are up 375%.

In the past seven days, Michigan has risen to the No. 1 spot for cases and case rates, up from the second highest in previous weeks.

Related: What's leading Michigan's COVID-19 case rates to highest in the nation?

The statewide positivity is the highest it has been since April 24, 2020, health officials said.

Since last week, 63 of 83 counties had double-digit positivity. This is a 21 county increase, while 73 counties had positivity greater than 7%, a nine-county increase.

Since Feb. 19, the case rate increase, as well as the number of cases, has been the highest among people younger than 70.

The 20-29 and 30-39 age groups are seeing the highest case rates, while the 0-9 and 10-19 groups are at an all-time high. Cases have more than quadrupled from a month ago, officials said.

Michigan has 1,817 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, seven cases of the 1.351 variant, and two cases of the P.1 variant.

More: Michigan confirms first case of Brazil Covid variant

"What is important to understand is that the more people are infected, the more time opportunity that virus has to mutate," said Dr. Sarah Lyon-Callo the director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. "The virus is not mutating more quickly than expected."

Testing is up in Michigan, with a 7-day average state testing rate of 3,479 per million people per day. The state is conducting an average of 51,700 PCR and antigen tests a week.


The state also has the highest COVID-19 inpatient hospital bed utilization and the highest adult ICU bed utilization. The state had the third-highest utilization previously.

Hospitalizations are doubling every 12-14 days for three consecutive weeks.

According to health officials, the one-week absolute increase was just under 1,000 patients, the highest absolute change in hospitalizations since the surge when the pandemic started last spring.

Health officials said hospitalizations were up about 45% in the past week. This is the sixth consecutive week these have increased, and all regions have had an increase in hospitalizations in the past week.

COVID-like illness currently accounts for 9.3% of emergency department visits

The state also reported that the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU units has seen accelerated growth, increasing 41% since last week.

Six of the state’s eight regions have 25% or more of their ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

The 40-49-year-old age group has seen the greatest increase in average daily admissions and percent change over the past week.

Since Feb. 28’s low, the 50-59 group has had the greatest daily average of admissions and percent change.


Michigan’s deaths have increased 75% since a March 9 low. The death rate is up slightly, with 2.4 deaths per million people.

There were 166 deaths reported from March 14-20.

Michigan has the 12th highest number of deaths in the nation, up from the 15th previously, and the 28th highest death rate, down two spots in the last week.

The proportion of deaths in the 60 and older age group is declining. Fifteen percent of deaths are people younger than 60.

Despite the proportion decline, daily deaths per million people are increasing for all age groups.


Active outbreaks increased 14% from the previous week. 

Overall there are 991 total outbreaks, and 287 are new.

School outbreaks are also up, 301 from 248. Health officials said the transmission of cases in K-12 sports has been the highest among basketball, hockey, and wrestling.

Schools have the highest number of outbreaks, with 81 new ones reported, bringing the total number to 301. Construction and manufacturing had 43 new outbreaks reported, a total of 141 outbreaks, and senior and assisted living facilities reported 35 new outbreaks, making that total 120.


Michigan has the 10th highest number of people who have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the 10th highest for people fully vaccinated.

According to health officials, 36.7% of people 16 and older have received at least one dose, and more than 4.7 million vaccine doses have been administered.

"Our administration capacity is definitely increasing in the state," Lyon-Callo said.

More: State vaccination access opens up in 'race against COVID-19 variants'

Health officials said the case rates are lower in age groups that have higher vaccine coverage. Older people were eligible to receive the vaccine sooner than younger people. Vaccinations for all people 16 and older opened up Monday.

The state has reported that 246 people have had a positive test 14 or more days after receiving their second dose of the vaccine as of the end of March. The people who have tested positive have been asymptomatic or have had milder symptoms compared to unvaccinated people.

Read More: Why are vaccinated people still getting COVID-19?

So far, more than 1.8 million Michigan residents have received complete doses of the vaccine. This means that a very small proportion of those vaccinated has gotten sick. 

Health officials said the number of fully vaccinated people who have tested positive does not exceed expected numbers because the vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing disease, but if people do get sick, the infections tend to be less severe.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are considered 95% and 94% effective respectively.

Of the positive cases, 129 had no data entered about hospitalizations, while 117 did have that information. Eleven were hospitalized, 103 were not, and three were marked as unknown.

Additionally, according to MDHHS, three people older than 65 have died. Two of those deaths were within three weeks of completion of vaccination.