Coronavirus in Michigan: Day 42

Backlogged: Michigan tracks more than 200 new COVID-19 deaths 

Statewide coronavirus case count nears 33,000 with at least 2,700 deaths

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(This story was updated at 3:15 p.m.) 

TUESDAY, April 21 — After catching up with recent death certificates, state officials reported more than 200 more COVID-19 deaths today, bringing the statewide death toll to at least 2,700.  

Across Michigan, about 1,000 new cases of the coronavirus also brought that total to nearly 33,000 cases, including more than two dozen new confirmed cases reported in Greater Lansing.  

Here are the latest case and death statistics across Greater Lansing, Michigan and the country:                  

Ingham County                  

Cases — 335  

Recoveries — 104       

Recovery Rate — 31%   

Deaths — 6    

Fatality Rate — 1.8%         

Most local cases, 61-66 of them, are tracked in Lansing zip code 48911. Much of the rest of south Lansing, Mason, East Lansing, Meridian and Bath townships each tallies 36-45 cases in zip codes 48910, 48823 and 48854. Zip code 48864 tracks 26-30 cases. Zip codes 48912, 48842 and 48906 each track between 16-25 cases. Zip codes 488915, 48840, 48895, 48917, 48819, 48827, 48892, 48909, 48933, 49251, 49264 and 49285 each track 15 cases or less.

Ingham County officials have also tracked at least a few COVID-19 cases among the patients and staff at Burcham Hills Retirement Community in Lansing and the Ingham County Medical Care Facility in Okemos. Health Officer Linda Vail estimated at a press briefing today that at least two cases had been identified at each location.

Eaton County                  

Cases — 99   

Recoveries — 61      

Recovery Rate — 61.6%    

Deaths — 5           

Fatality Rate — 5%       

Clinton County                  

Cases — 105   

Deaths — 7      

Fatality Rate — 6.7%                  

Officials at the Mid-Michigan County Health Department do not report recovery statistics.      

Michigan                  

Cases — 32,967 (+3%)   

Recoveries — 3,237 (as of 4/17/20)    

Recovery Rate — 9.8%  

Deaths — 2,700 (+9.4%)   

Fatality Rate — 8.2%    

According to state reports, about 76% of cases (and about 83% of those dead) are from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit. Data also shows African Americans accounted for 33% of cases and 40% of deaths. Caucasians accounted for 31% of cases and 43% of deaths; those of unknown race charted 24% of cases and 11% of deaths.          

At least 615 cases and 20 deaths are among Michigan Department of Corrections inmates.            

U.S.                

Cases — 804,194 

Deaths — 43,200 

Fatality Rate — 5.4%   

Source: CNN           

Michigan is the state with the sixth most confirmed cases in the country, behind New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania. Michigan also reports the third most virus deaths in the U.S. behind New York and New Jersey. The U.S. has the most cases in the world.   

In Lansing…   

A recent Facebook announcement of an armed protest in Lansing against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency shutdown was a fake. No such protest formed yesterday. Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said the city will continue to monitor and prepare for future demonstrations. 

The Michigan Conservative Coalition penned an open letter today to Schor, clarifying that no future “Operation Gridlock” protests have been planned in the city of Lansing. The organizers also chided the protestors who left their vehicles to protest on the Capitol lawn last week. 

“We do not support or encourage attendance to these protests. Quite the opposite, we will be communicating in various ways that citizens should NOT participate,” the letter reads. “Why? Our goal was to bring attention to the irrational rules in place that were putting over 1,000,000 workers on the unemployment line. We feel the Governor has heard the peoples’ message.” 

According to recent reports from Reuters, Facebook has been taking down anti-quarantine protest events from its website if they defied government guidelines. At least one previously planned grid-lock style protest at the Michigan State Capitol has disappeared from social media.  

At least a dozen homeless people in Lansing could be left in the cold this week as city officials continue to enforce a blanket suspension on open fires amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the weekend, the Lansing Fire Department extinguished a small fire at a makeshift camp downtown.   

The Summer Solstice Jazz Festival — initially scheduled to take place June 19 and 20 in East Lansing — has been canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis. Staff are working to move previously scheduled artists to next year’s event, pending availability. A virtual festival is being considered. 

The city of East Lansing is also urging residents to take precautions on electric scooter rentals that remain available downtown. Scooters remain part of Michigan’s critical transportation infrastructure and licensing for their operations in East Lansing remains in effect through June. 

Still, riders are encouraged to wash their hands and only use the scooters for essential travel.  

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership — through the state’s Business Accelerator Fund — is offering expanded access and eligibility to support small, non-tech companies making personal protective equipment or medical supplies and other businesses working to fight COVID-19. Visit purelansing.com/baf for details and visit purelansing.com/businessrelief for other assistance.   

Michigan State University and Sparrow Hospital have developed a decontamination process using dry heat to extend the life of N95 masks so they can be reused by front line health care workers. And Delta Dental has chipped in $25,000 to help fund the project.   

Hospitals in southeast Michigan and Greater Lansing will use the technology, but several hundred thousand dollars is needed to roll out the initiative in its entirety with full training and staffing, officials said.  

And the Bath Township Police Department used the 420 holiday to make puns on Facebook.   

Across Michigan…   

Whitmer said that Michigan, as whole, appears to be flattening its curve of new coronavirus cases with fewer cases reported over the last few days. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to reopen the economy and send people back to work, she emphasized yesterday afternoon.   

“It shows the aggressive actions we’ve taken are working,” Whitmer added. “We know that our actions are saving lives here in Michigan. We’re doing the smart thing and we’re seeing results.”   

Whitmer’s current “Stay Safe, Stay Home” executive order — which limits travel and mandates many businesses to halt their physical operations — expires on April 30. At which point, Whitmer thinks reverting back to normal life will occur through a series of gradual phases.   

State officials emphasized that while the overall state caseload appears to be tapering off, many counties (including rural areas) are reporting a rising number of coronavirus cases. Whitmer’s phrase of the day: Optimism — but only “cautious optimism” — as the virus continues to spread.   

“We have to do everything we can to avoid a second peak,” Whitmer strongly emphasized yesterday at a press conference. “Just because it hasn’t showed up in your community doesn’t mean it’s not already there. What happens next depends on every single one of us.”   

Whitmer yesterday signed an executive order to create the Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. The goal: gather medical experts to study and address the causes of the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on communities of color across the state.   

While African Americans represent 13.6% of the population, they represent a staggering 40% of the deaths from the coronavirus. Whitmer said the task force — headed up by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist — will recommend actions to immediately address those underlying inequities.   

Among several members of the newly formed task force: Dr. Renée Branch Canady, of Lansing, the chief executive officer of the Michigan Public Health Institute and Dr. Randolph Rasch, of East Lansing, a professor and dean of the Michigan State University College of Nursing. 

Gilchrist called on federal officials today to reach an agreement and authorize additional funding to the Paycheck Protection Program funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration. To date, more than 43,000 businesses in the state have received more than $10 billion in loans. 

The Associated Press reports that a federal judge delayed yesterday until May 8 a prior deadline by which Michigan candidates must file petitions to qualify for the ballot. Candidates can now collect half as many signatures and can gather them by email rather than in person.   

Attorney General Dana Nessel sent a cease-and-desist letter last week to Land Scape Supplies LLC., a Muskegon-based landscaping company that violated Whitmer’s lockdown on nonessential businesses. A judge issued yesterday an order confirming the recent violation.   

Nessel is also reminding residents to remain on high alert for phone scams as federal stimulus payments continue to roll in for qualifying Michiganders. Banks have also been asked to pay close attention to inconsistencies in transactions from accounts of vulnerable, older adults.   

A Michigan conservative coalition, with at least 40,000 members, is suing Whitmer to overturn her ban on motorized boating during the pandemic, according to recent reports from MLive.   

The University of Michigan started cuts yesterday at all three of its campuses, with reductions in hours, pay and nonessential expenses — and more to come, reports the Detroit Free Press.   

The Michigan National Guard received a request yesterday to provide additional support to a food bank in Battle Creek. Assistance will be provided there until mid-May along with volunteer help at food banks in other cities like Comstock Park, Ann Arbor, Pontiac, Flint and Royal Oak.   

JBS Meat Packing, a Plainwell-area meat packing plant, was formally reopened yesterday after at least 60 of its employees had tested positive for COVID-19, reports the Holland Sentinel.   

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services again expanded its COVID-19 testing criteria yesterday to include all essential workers still reporting to work in person, whether they have symptoms or not, and launched a large-scale effort to expand contact tracing statewide.  

“This means that anyone with symptoms can get a test as well as any individual regularly interacting with others outside their household, as long as the testing location has the supplies,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, explained yesterday afternoon.   

Click here to volunteer and click here to locate a testing site near you.   

MDHHS also now requires all long-term-care facilities — like nursing homes and assisted living operations — to submit daily reports regarding capacity, personal protective equipment inventory and the current number of COVID-19 cases and deaths within their facilities.  

An ongoing state booze buyback program for bars and restaurants has spent more than $800,000 to buy back spirits from liquor license holders, according to reports from MLive.   

The Detroit Free Press reports that the border between the U.S. and Canada will remain restricted to essential travel for another 30 days. Trade between the countries can continue and workers can travel for jobs, but travel for entertainment and pleasure remains prohibited.   

The latest information is posted online at michigan.gov/coronavirus and cdc.gov/coronavirus.   

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