Michigan state health officials confirmed 254 more cases of coronavirus in Michigan, raising the state total to 334.
While several new counties reported their first cases, the bulk of the growth is localized to Michigan's most populace counties, with Oakland recording a spike in new cases from 23 to 105 becoming the unofficial epicenter of Michigan's outbreak.
With the spike in new COVID-19 totals eclipsing triple digits, today's update represents a new stage in the virus's outbreak across the state.
Prior to Thursday, Michigan health officials had only reported 80 cases - however, experts believe that number is far below the real state total and anticipated an exponential increase of coronavirus as the outbreak shifted toward a community-based transmission.
There are also 75 total cases of coronavirus confirmed in Detroit.
As Oakland County recorded the state's first triple digits of coronavirus cases, Clinton, Eaton and Midland counties all confirmed cases as well, indicating the virus was beginning to migrate outside of southeast Michigan.
One reason for the delay in positive cases is due to a lack of available tests. Following the first reported death at a Wayne hospital, a medical chief with Beaumont warned unless someone was exhibiting obvious coronavirus symptoms (fever, coughing, trouble breathing) and was elderly or had underlying symptoms that would further risk them to being infected, to not try to get tested.
“We are pleased to announce that we are now able to provide testing results from hospitals and other entities outside of our state laboratory,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We knew there were additional people in Michigan with COVID-19 that had not yet been tested. This emphasizes the need to continue to practice social distancing and other community mitigation practices to help slow the spread of this disease.”
Evidence of Michigan's delay in reporting more positive tests started to come to fruition later Wednesday after Khaldun confirmed the state knew of 30 additional cases on top of the 80 already accounted for.
Then, early Thursday, Oakland County said it had confirmed 94 coronavirus cases, a dramatic increase from the 23 total cases reported on Wednesday.
Despite the older demographic being most at risk, the virus has infected several age groups equally. State data as of March, 19 reports:
Age Range %
0 to 19 years - 1%
20 to 29 years - 10%
30 to 39 years - 18%
40 to 49 years - 19%
50 to 59 years - 19%
60 to 69 years - 18%
70 to 79 years - 8%
80+ years - 5%
Not Reported - 2%
Also expected to rise is the death count, which began with a middle-aged Southgate man with underlying conditions on Wednesday. Two more deaths were soon reported on Thursday, a woman in her 50s at Oakland McLaren, and an 84-year-old patient at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Authorities with the State of Michigan are now compiling the list in a daily rundown and are releasing the information daily at 2 p.m.
Since the first round of confirmations on March 10, the COVID-19 virus has spread to 19 counties and the city of Detroit, stretching from almost every county in southeast Michigan up to the state's northern half of the lower peninsula.
The spread of the virus is indicative that transmission isn't coming from travelers out of state, but between residents in Michigan.
As the state total incrementally climbs, state officials have begun enacting more drastic measures to reduce the number of places coronavirus can be spread.
Since March 10, when the first two cases were confirmed, Gov. Whitmer has declared a state emergency, closed all schools, prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people, restricted visits to hospitals and other facilities, closed public spaces such as theaters, bars, gyms and casinos, and limited restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders.
The Whitmer Administration has also taken other measures as well:
- Expanding unemployment benefits to workers who may be experiencing unanticipated responsibilities due to coronavirus
- Outlawing price gouging on goods, materials, emergency supplies and consumer food items linked to the COVID-19 state of emergency
- Waive weight restrictions on vehicles supporting COVID-19 relief efforts
While these measures feel drastic, officials argue they are instrumental in reducing the potential spike in positive cases. While the measures may not reduce the number of cases that will be confirmed, it will slow the rate at which the disease can spread. Epidemiologists call this 'flattening the curve.'
Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu.
Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.
Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus but may put you in a better position to fight it.
To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.
And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.
FOX 2 is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. Every weekday we're live at 1 p.m. with a special show reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.
You can also get the latest coronavirus news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.