Michigan nears 100K coronavirus cases. Maps, graphics show pandemics path. – Bridge Michigan

West Michigan saw its highest case counts in July, as metro Detroit had a respite. And now, some of the most dense cases are in the remote western Upper Peninsula, in Menominee County.

Though small in population, Menominee has averaged six new cases a day, or 26 for each 100,000 people, by far the highest current rate in the state. In comparison, Macomb County, which had the most cases on Wednesday (138), has had a daily average of 13.5 cases for every 100,000 people.

Who is getting the virus

Across Michigan, people of color and older residents have borne the brunt of the virus. 

African Americans, who comprise 14 percent of the state population, make up nearly 40 percent of deaths and have a death rate — deaths per 1 million — that at 1,650 is nearly four times higher than it is for white residents (423 per million). (Data for other groups weren’t available.)

The age gap revealed how deadly COVID-19 remains for the elderly: 16 percent of all coronavirus cases have hit those 70 or older but that age group makes up 70 percent of all deaths.

And the toll was especially harsh in nursing homes, where a third of all deaths, just over 2,100, have occurred among residents, and 21 nursing home employees have died. 

Younger residents have been contracting the virus lately. Through June 5, about 4 percent of all infections were among those under 20 years old. 

From then until this week, they have made up over 17 percent of new infections and they are the fastest rising age group contracting coronavirus in the state, even though they are the least likely to suffer serious complications.

Cases and deaths

By almost any measure, Michigan has rebounded from an awful — and deadly — beginning of the pandemic.

When probable cases are added to confirmed ones, Michigan has nearly 6,700 deaths, or 67 for every 100,000 people, a rate that is 10th highest in the nation. But it had been as high as fourth until waves of the virus swept through the south and southwest.

Michigan, which ranks 10th among states in overall population, ranks 18th in total coronavirus cases. It has been passed by several states, including Ohio, that for several weeks had far fewer cases than Michigan.

By population, Michigan now ranks 37th in terms of cases per 100,000 people.

Testing

Early on, Michigan struggled to test enough people and the few tests available were limited to those with symptoms and who had been in contact with a known coronavirus case. 

Because of that, nearly 40 percent of tests were positive in the early weeks of the pandemic. A steady increase in testing capacity now has the state testing as many as 400 people per day per 100,000 — far surpassing the one-time goal of 150 tests.

That’s important, health experts say, because it allows public health officials to quickly identify cases and recommend quarantine for the infected. That works even better, they say, when the positive test rate is below 5 percent or, the Harvard Global Health Initiative suggests, even 3 percent.

By those standards, Michigan has done well: Over the past week 3.1 percent of tests are positive and on Wednesday just 2.4 percent of over 41,000 tests were positive.