1/24/21: COVID deaths spike after weeks of declines

More cases of COVID variant discovered. New infections and deaths stable in Kalamazoo. Vaccinations progressing despite slow rollout of new supplies.

Michigan: A review of death records has turned up a slew of new deaths attributable to COVID-19 and caused the state to record a spike in fatality numbers.

State health officials reported 17 new deaths on Friday and 221 on Saturday, with 205 of Saturday’s number coming from the records review. Saturday’s spike in reported deaths caused the state’s seven day moving average to also spike – from about 52 deaths per day on Friday to almost 70 deaths per day on Saturday. Michigan’s average death numbers had been steadily declining for two weeks.

Meanwhile, new infection numbers continue to drop. The state reported 2,157 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 1,601 on Saturday. The state’s seven day average declined to 1,791 new cases per day. New infection numbers have also been declining for two weeks.

That comes as the state is uncovering more cases of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus. On Saturday, state health officials announced they had discovered three new cases of the B.1.1.7 strain of the virus that causes COVID-19. That’s in addition to three previously discovered cases of the variant.

The state’s positivity numbers continue to decrease. In the week ending Friday, an average of just 6.04% of COVID-19 tests conducted in Michigan came back positive. That’s a hopeful sign that new deaths and infections will continue to lessen in the coming weeks.

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Kalamazoo County: The county’s average deaths stabilized on Friday while new infections continued to decline. Health officials reported 42 new infections on Friday, bringing the county’s average to a little over 44 new cases per day over the previous week.

The county also reported one new death from the coronavirus on Friday. That kept the county’s seven day moving average of deaths stable at 2.29 deaths per day.

Kalamazoo County dropped below a 7% average positivity rate on Friday. That day, just 4.87% of COVID-19 tests returned positive results, bringing the county’s seven day average to 6.79%. Last summer state health officials targeted 5% positivity as the level at which the state could reopen the economy. The hope is that the county (and state) positivity rates will allow statewide restrictions to loosen in the coming weeks.

Vaccines: A push to get more people vaccinated against the coronavirus as quickly as possible is being hampered by limited supplies of those vaccines.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is hoping to get 50,000 people vaccinated per day. So far, the state is falling far short of that mark, administering about 29,000 inoculations per day as of Friday.

Still, the efforts are not without results. As of Friday, more than 105,000 Michiganders had received both doses of the vaccine, with another 536,000 getting their first shots.

In Kalamazoo County, more than 21,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. But supplies are dwindling. Facilities in the county had not received any new shipments of vaccine since last Monday.

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