DETROIT (FOX 2) - Michigan’s COVID-19 case rate is rising and the state is seeing more cases of the B.1.1.7., health officials said Wednesday.
According to health officials, Michigan’s case rates are similar to those in mid-October. Officials also noted that the death rate continues to decrease, however, that is a lagging indicator and could change direction as the newest increase continues.
"One of the reasons we showed the entire epidemic period here is we want to make clear our rates we are experiencing right now for these age groups are similar to where we were in mid-October," said Sarah Lyon-Callo, the director of the MDHHS Bureau of Epidemiology and state epidemiologist.
COVID-19 data is climbing
Currently, Michigan has the 9th highest number of cases and 10th highest case rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The case rate is 144 per million and the state has a 5.1% positivity rate.
The 10-19 age group has had the highest spike in new cases, followed by the 40-49 age group.
Michigan has 725 cases of B.1.1.7., which is 15% of all reported cases of the variant in the U.S. More than half of those cases are in the Department of Corrections population. Those numbers are some of the highest in the country.
COVID-19 testing remains steady, but health officials said testing needs to increase as more people become infected. As of Wednesday, the state reported 615,792 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 15,810 deaths.
The Kalamazoo region has the highest case rate and positivity rate, while the Upper Peninsula has the lowest rates.
Hospitalizations and ICU utilization is also increasing across the state, officials said, up 14% since last week, and this is the third consecutive week they have risen.
"At the rate, we're going, our double time at this growth rate is approximately five weeks. Five weeks from now, we'll have almost two thousand patients in our hospitals in the state," Lyon-Callo said.
About 10 states across the U.S. are seeing increases in cases, but only Minnesota was the other nearby state that also reported more cases. Part of the reason, health officials said, is due to the B.1.1.7 variant's outbreak in Michigan jails.
"We may see New York, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio - we're seeing some plateauing or decline in those numbers, - but Michigan definitely stands out in terms of the increase during this time period," Lyon-Callo said.
The number of active outbreaks has also risen since last week. It is now 9% higher.
There are 645 identified outbreaks, 170 of which were identified last week. K-12 schools saw the biggest increase in outbreaks -- 54 new outbreaks were identified last week.
Lyon-Callo said the outbreaks are most likely due to activities associated with schools, such as sports.
High schools had the biggest increase in new COVID-19 cases and account for the most outbreaks. Nursing homes and manufacturing centers were also behind Michigan's recent increase.
In high schools, there are 105 outbreaks, with 289 new cases of the virus reported in the last week, while elementary schools and middle schools account for 24 and 28 of all school outbreaks, respectively.
Senior living and assisted living facilities have the second-highest number of outbreaks -- 145. Thirteen new cases were identified last week, manufacturing and construction jobs have the third-highest amount of outbreaks -- 101.
The death rate decreased between Feb. 28 and March 6 to 1.4 deaths per 1 million people.
This is the 12th week that deaths have declined, officials said, and there has been an 89% decrease since the peak on Dec. 10, 2020. The proportion of deaths for people older than 60 is declining, as well.
While deaths continue to decline, health officials say they are a lagging indicator of COVID-19’s impact.
The death rate is near that of early October, officials said.
As of Wednesday, 15,810 have died from COVID-19 in Michigan. That number changes often as vital record reviews are performed and new deaths are attributed to the virus.
About 25% of the state’s population has been vaccinated, with 3.1 million vaccine doses administered. More than 16% of the population has received both doses.
Vaccine eligibility expands Monday to include people 16 and older who are considered high-risk because of disabilities or medical conditions, as well as all people older than 50.
All people older than 16 will be eligible to receive a vaccine beginning April 5.
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