Michigan COVID-19 update offers glimmers of hope despite case surge, death increase

While Michigan's COVID-19 cases are spiking and deaths are on the rise, there are signs of hope in the virus update health officials provided this week.

The update focused on areas of concern -- hospitalizations are increasing, more outbreaks have been identified, and Michigan leads the nation in cases and case rate. But it also highlighted bits of positivity when it comes to ending the pandemic.

According to health officials, vaccines are working because older age groups have lower case rates. Older people were the first allowed to receive the vaccine.

Younger people are seeing higher case rates -- the 20-29 and 30-39 age groups are seeing the highest case rates. However, up until Monday, they were not eligible to receive the vaccine.

Even though people 16 and older have started receiving the vaccine this week, it will take some time to see if the eligibility expansion will reduce case numbers among younger people because it takes two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for them to be effective. There is about a three-week gap between the first and second doses, and it takes roughly 14 days after the second shot to be fully vaccinated.

Read More: Deaths climb, cases spike as state works to vaccinate more people

So, the people who received vaccines this week won't be considered fully vaccinated until mid-May.

The state is continually expanding its vaccine capacity to ensure as many people as possible get vaccinated.

"Our administration capacity is definitely increasing in the state," said Dr. Sarah Lyon-Callo the director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

MORE: Detroit adds 8 COVID-19 vaccine sites

Also, while the vaccines are not 100% effective -- Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are considered 95% and 94% effective respectively -- the number of people who are getting sick after being fully vaccinated is not more than what health officials expected. Even if it is possible to get the virus after getting both doses of the vaccine, it is not common.

"It is very rare but possible," Lyon-Callo said.

As of the end of March, 246 of the more than 1.7 million fully vaccinated people in Michigan had tested positive for the virus. Officials said some of these people could have been positive before receiving the vaccine and thus did not catch it after. Even if all 246 people caught COVID-19 after getting vaccinated, that number still represents a very small portion of all people fully vaccinated.

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

Additionally, health officials said that the vaccinated people who got sick tended to have less severe symptoms than unvaccinated people.

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.

During the COVID update, Lyon-Callo also noted that the virus is not mutating more quickly than health officials expected, but getting virus numbers under control is key to curtailing further mutations.

Related: 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," she said.

Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Tal Zaks recently said the company should be able to provide booster shots to protect people from mutations by the end of the year.