Healthcare workers test a person at a COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in West Bloomfield, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Michigan Testing
Healthcare workers test a person at a COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in West Bloomfield, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The state saw half as many cases in the first half of November as it saw in the first half of the pandemic. Southeastern Michigan is bearing the brunt of the caseload.

PONTIAC, Mich.—Michigan marked a grim milestone Saturday as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases passed 300,000. 

It did so almost exactly two weeks after surpassing 200,000. That means in just the past two weeks, Michigan saw half as many cases confirmed as in the entire pandemic from March to November. Michigan also recently set another single-day record for infectivity with almost 10,000 cases in a single day Friday. 

Prior to November, the record was closer to 3,000. 

During this latest outbreak, one of the hardest-hit areas in Metro Detroit has been Oakland County. According to the Coronavirus Risk Assessment Planning Tool, the odds of contracting the virus at an event with 50 people in Oakland County is almost 80%. 

This has prompted the county to look to unusual methods of getting data on wide swaths of the population to help pinpoint outbreaks. 

Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash told Fox 2 Detroit that the county’s response is to look to sewage to try and predict outbreaks. 

Starting with the sewers of Pontiac, Oakland County will be sampling and testing human waste for traces of the virus. This anonymized data will, the county hopes, help detect areas of outbreak before the onset of symptoms and respond faster to neighborhoods and communities with rapid viral spread.

“We can do sampling in these sites on a repeated basis once a day, once every two hours, and then we can report back if there are levels that are detectable in the first place, and if they’re going up or down,” Nash said.

Across the state in Grand Rapids, Kent County is also dealing with a dramatic outbreak. 

“Our local infection rates have reached dangerous levels,” Kent County health administrative officer Dr. Adam London said. “We need to take decisive, community-wide action to protect the health of our residents and to alleviate the pressure on our hospitals, frontline health care workers, and public health case investigators and contact tracers.”

Against this backdrop, US District Judge Paul Maloney refused to halt the “three-week pause” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer instituted to try and slow the wildfire spread of the pandemic across Michigan. Efforts to prevent gatherings in March and April showed wide effectiveness in halting the spread of the virus. 

“Individuals who patronize the businesses that remain open can do so—and must do so—while wearing a face covering,” he said. “In contrast, individuals cannot eat or drink while wearing a mask.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.