Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

MICHIGAN — While the far shore of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is likely still weeks or even months away, some positive signs have been seen in the daily updates from the State of Michigan.

One major sign of good news was Friday’s day-over-day new case total of only 760, bringing the total Michigan cases passed 30,000. Though the total is alarming, that daily growth gives some cause for hope, dropping below 1,000 for just the third time in April. 

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While the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services cautioned against taking any one day’s numbers as indicative of the pandemic as a whole and the last dip below 1,000 was followed by a spike, this particular dip comes after Michigan fell out of the top three states by number of infections as The ‘Gander reported earlier in the week.

“Single day fluctuations in the number of confirmed cases may not be significant, as a number of external factors can affect data reporting,” MDHHS said.

Friday also added 134 deaths bringing the total to 2,227. The ‘Gander was able to calculate Michigan’s Case Fatality Rate (which we explained Thursday) is holding relatively steady at 7.4% compared to Thursday’s 7.1%. That slight increase is at least partially explained by day-over-day new cases falling faster than day-over-day deaths in Friday’s data. 

Michigan holds at fourth nationally in terms of number infected, and third nationally by death toll.

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Events of the past week may be very influential over how the remainder of the pandemic plays out in Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer outlined four criteria Michigan would need to see before lifting orders designed to prevent the coronavirus’ spread which other Midwestern governors adopted as well, but she expressed worry that protests in Lansing that refused to adhere to social distancing policies might trigger a wider spread of the disease in weeks to come. 

According to the daily update from the state, the county-level breakdown is as follows:

  • Alcona: 1  
  • Allegan: 29  
  • Alpena: 2 (1 death)
  • Antrim: 8  
  • Arenac:7  
  • Baraga:1  
  • Barry: 21 (1 death)
  • Bay: 69 (2 deaths)
  • Berrien: 144 (8 deaths)
  • Branch: 35 (2 deaths)
  • Calhoun: 130 (5 deaths)
  • Cass: 22 (1 death
  • Charlevoix: 11 (1 death)
  • Cheboygan: 12 (1 death)
  • Clare: 7 (1 death)
  • Clinton: 103 (6 deaths)
  • Crawford: 22 (2 death)
  • Delta: 10 (1 death)
  • Dickinson: 3 (2 deaths)
  • Eaton: 87 (5 deaths)
  • Emmet: 21 (2 deaths)
  • Genesee: 1197 (106 deaths)
  • Gladwin: 8
  • Gogebic: 4 (1 death)
  • Grand Traverse: 17 (4 deaths)
  • Gratiot: 7
  • Hillsdale: 85 (10 deaths)
  • Houghton 2
  • Huron: 8
  • Ingham: 298 (6 deaths)
  • Ionia: 20 (2 deaths)
  • Iosco: 8 (1 death)
  • Isabella: 46 (6 deaths)
  • Jackson: 227 (9 deaths)
  • Kalamazoo: 130 (9 deaths)
  • Kalkaska: 17 (2 deaths)
  • Kent: 430 (20 deaths)
  • Lake: 2
  • Lapeer: 140 (13 deaths)
  • Leelanau: 7 
  • Lenawee: 59
  • Livingston: 269 (9 deaths)
  • Luce: 1
  • Mackinac: 5
  • Macomb: 4145 (373 deaths)
  • Manistee: 11
  • Marquette: 29 (5 deaths)
  • Mason: 4 
  • Mecosta: 12 (1 death)
  • Menominee: 1
  • Midland: 42 (1 death)
  • Missaukee: 3 (1 death)
  • Monroe: 223 (10 deaths)
  • Montcalm: 23 (1 death)
  • Montmorency: 3
  • Muskegon: 128 (5 deaths)
  • Newaygo: 7
  • Oakland: 5901 (422 deaths)
  • Oceana: 4 (1 death)
  • Ogemaw: 5
  • Osceola: 6
  • Oscoda: 4
  • Otsego: 45 (3 deaths)
  • Ottawa: 88 (5 deaths)
  • Presque Isle: 2
  • Roscommon: 9
  • Saginaw: 369 (24 deaths)
  • Sanilac: 27 (2 deaths)
  • Schoolcraft: 3
  • Shiawassee: 86 (2 deaths)
  • St Clair: 236 (8 deaths) 
  • St Joseph: 23 (1 death)
  • Tuscola: 54 (10 deaths)
  • Van Buren: 28 (2 deaths)
  • Washtenaw: 855 (25 deaths)
  • Wayne: 5819 (462 deaths)
  • Wexford: 7 (1 death)
  • Michigan Department of Corrections: 514 (15 deaths)
  • Federal Corrections Institute: 44  
  • Unknown: 46 (4 deaths)
  • Out of State: 71 (2 deaths)

Total: 30,023 cases, 2,227 deaths

Nationally, the New York Times reports 681,727 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 31,000 deaths. As The ‘Gander has previously discussed, issues with a lack of tests and false negatives mean the actual number of infected Americans is likely higher than 681,727 but we can’t be sure by how much. Efforts are underway to solve that mystery. 

To get a clearer image of the actual number of infected Americans, called the “prevalence” of the disease, increased testing is necessary. That increase in testing is critical to most plans about ending stay-at-home orders across the nation. But, as the Atlantic reports, in the meantime we can use another, imperfect measure: the test positivity rate. 

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The test positivity rate has a lot of the same problems as CFR when it comes to determining the actual shape of a pandemic, especially in light of restrictive testing. The people who get tested are the ones most likely to have the disease in the estimation of medical professionals because there simply aren’t enough tests to go around. At the same time as this dramatically increases the number of positive tests, the false negative issues lower the test positivity rate.

But this data is still useful to compare areas to one another, also like CFR. In that way, we can get a sort of blurry impression of how deeply entrenched the virus is in particular regions even if the actual prevalence data is still far from arriving. . 
According to the COVID Tracking Project’s data, the overall test positivity rate in the United States is a bit short 20%, while Michigan’s rate passes 30%.