This could be the beginning of COVID's second wave, Khaldun says, after cases continue to increase in Michigan

Michigan's chief health officer is warning that the state could be beginning a second wave of the coronavirus as cases rise, along with the number of people in hospitals though death rates have remained low.

The state’s seven-day average for coronavirus cases was just over 1,000 on Monday - the highest since April. 

Michigan had 89 new cases per 1 million people per day, up from 81.6 cases last week, the health department said. About 700 people with COVID-19 were in hospitals, up about 20% from last week. The rate of positive tests has ticked up to 3.6% from 3.4%. It was under 3% in June.

"It is very possible this is the beginning of a second wave," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan chief medical executive. "The virus has not changed. It is an opportunist. If people are not wearing masks, if people are gathering, if people are not washing their hands, it will spread." The number of new cases reported statewide Tuesday was 1,237.

"In many cases across the state, cases are actually the highest they have been throughout the entire pandemic," Dr. Khaldun said.

"The uptick in cases means we are just becoming complacent," said Dr. Russell Faust, Medical Director at Oakland County Health Division. "I think people are pretty fed up. I think people are tired of wearing a mask and maintaining distance. And the fact is that these are preventive measures are successful."

But as the numbers increase medical professionals say there’s other areas of concern.

"This is going to be cold-flu-COVID season, and what really concerns me is that co-infection of influenza and COVID doubles your risk of fatality in the 60 and above age range," Dr. Faust said. 

State officials say they are working with hospitals to prepare for a potential increase in hospital visits, but Dr. Faust says the uptick in cases can be controlled.

"This isn’t rocket science. This is a mask and distance. That's it," he said. "We have no transmission when people are wearing a mask and maintaining distance. It's that simple."

Despite the increase in COVID cases, medical professionals say the good news is the number of people dying has decreased.

"We’re not seeing the fatalities associated with that because hospitals have just gotten so good at treating COVID-19 now," Dr. Faust said.

But the goal is to simply avoid the virus.

"This is easy. We can do this," Dr. Faust said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report