Michiganders urged to take precautions as COVID-19 cases trend up

COVID-19 in Michigan
Photo credit (Getty)

(WWJ) Michigan residents are urged to keep up the distancing and proceed with caution as COVID-19 cases tick up in the state.

With cooler fall weather and flu season setting in, the number of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Michigan have recently trended upward, prompting a call from public health officials to increase vigilance and preventative measures.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), hospitals and local health officials on Tuesday called on all Michiganders to take "simple steps" to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases that could overwhelm the hospital systems.

“Michiganders did a great job of bringing our cases down after a surge in the spring,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Basic things like wearing masks, maintaining a physical distance from others and washing hands worked. Yet as the colder months and flu season have arrived, we now see a concerning jump in our cases – a trend we can reverse if we all take this seriously and follow best practices to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

COVID-19 cases by county as of 10/13/20
COVID-19 cases by county as of 10/13/20 Photo credit (Credit: MDHHS)

The recent increase in cases, along with people gathering indoors more frequently due to cooler weather, creates a risk of greater community spread, according to MDHHS. To protect against the risk of a devastating surge in cases and its impact on Michiganders, the health department issued additional Emergency Orders to clarify gathering definitions, capacity restrictions, mask requirements and worker protections.

“State and local public health officials have been concerned about the risk of a surge in cases in the fall, and this recent increase should remind us all to refocus on preventing the spread of COVID-19,” said Nick Derusha, president of the Michigan Association for Local Public Health. “Wearing masks, practicing social distancing, washing our hands, and participating in contact tracing with public health officials are proven, effective ways to slow the spread of this virus.”

In addition to rising cases across the state, more tests are coming back positive and more residents are being hospitalized compared to previous weeks, MDHHS said.

Currently, Michigan has 89 daily cases per million people, 3.6% of tests are positive and there are 698 COVID-19 hospitalizations. This is compared to the same point last week when we reported 81.6 daily cases per million people, 3.4% positivity and 586 hospitalizations for COVID-19.

“At the height of the COVID-19 response in Michigan, our frontline hospital workers were working around the clock to treat COVID-19 patients. As we see cases on the rise again and more hospital beds with patients than we have in weeks, we must remember what mask wearing and social distancing does: it prevents cases, it prevents hospitalizations, and it prevents deaths,” said Brian Peters, chief executive officer of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

On Tuesday, health officials reported 1,237 new positive cases confirmed since Monday, with 30 new deaths. The death count includes 10 deaths identified during a Vital Records review.

As Michigan continues to work to safely reopen, the health department says it's important to remember that does not mean that the virus is gone, or the risk of infection is less.

MDHHS says scientists and doctors agree that masks and face coverings can help to reduce the spread by about 70%. And further, not feeling ill is not a sign that you are not infected – the reality is that about 40% of people who have COVID-19 may be asymptomatic and capable of spreading the virus to others. Although many people getting infected with COVID-19 this fall are not needing to be hospitalized, it still important that we wear masks and socially distance to prevent people who will have severe disease from getting infected.

Get more updates stats from the state, plus updates on outbreak and information on where to get tested for free, at www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/.