State health officials track Michigan’s 500,000th COVID-19 case

Another 28 dead this week from viral complications in Greater Lansing

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Michigan hit another grim milestone this week after it tracked its 500,000th confirmed case of the coronavirus in the state. The first two cases were recorded about 10 months ago next week.

Among the half-million cases: More than 21,000 cases tracked to date in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties, including another 1,200 cases and 27 deaths tracked within the last week.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said “hope is on the horizon” in the form of a safe and effective vaccine distribution campaign that will continue through the first several months of 2021. In the first three weeks, nearly 130,000 Michiganders have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine — an average of about 9,300 vaccines administered per day last week, state officials reported.

Still, thousands of health care workers who would be first in line for a coronavirus vaccine are declining to take it, potentially slowing efforts to curb the pandemic this week, reports Bridge Michigan. Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail estimated up to 40% of those eligible for the vaccine have declined it, though she remains hopeful that vaccine confidence is on the rise.

Meanwhile, a federal report shows Michigan still ranks among the worst in the nation for vaccine rates among health care workers and first responders. Only Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia have vaccinated fewer people per capita, CDC data shows.

In related news …

Ten city of Lansing employees will assist with COVID-19 vaccine distribution this week by providing traffic control and registration assistance while first responders and frontline healthcare workers receive the vaccine, Mayor Andy Schor announced.

After state officials mandated colleges and universities to postpone inperson instruction until Jan. 18, spring classes are slated to start a week behind schedule at Michigan State University. Beginning Jan. 11, students will begin a weeklong “reading, reviewing and reflection” prior to the start of virtual classes on Jan. 19 and a transition to inperson classes that begins on Jan. 25.

The city of East Lansing is hosting a photo contest this month titled “Why I Wear A Mask.” Residents can submit photos of themselves wearing a mask downtown, along with a short narrative explaining why masks are important, for a chance to win gift card vouchers of up to $100. Visit cityofeastlansing.com/whyimask for details or to submit an entry before Feb. 1.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula turned into a COVID-19 hot spot during the latest surge in cases, according to a report from the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. In the last few months, more than 13,500 Yoopers contracted the virus, a threefold increase since the pandemic began in March. The death toll was starker: 337 dead in 10 weeks, up from 46 deaths in the first seven months, according to reports first published in the Detroit Free Press.

Kid Rock announced on Twitter this week that he plans to donate $100,000 to help small businesses hit by coronavirus-related shutdowns. The money will be donated to the Barstool Fund, a nonprofit launched by Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy amid the pandemic.

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