Dramatic rise in Michigan coronavirus cases not driven by increased testing

Posted at 3:10 PM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-28 17:54:37-04

(WXYZ) — President Donald Trump often places blame for the rise in COVID-19 case numbers on high rates of testing.

However, state health officials say that testing alone does not account for Michigan's spike in case rates.

Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi says if we compare September to October, the numbers are extremely different. The state of Michigan conducted just over 813,000 tests between Sept. 1 and Sept. 26. Whereas that same time frame in October, there were over 1 million tests conducted. So that translates into a 23% increase in testing.

When we look at the actual number of cases that were positive - from Sept. 1st through Sept 23rd - we had close to 15,800 cases of COVID-19. And when you compare that same time frame in October, the numbers skyrocketed to just over 29,000. That means the proportion of tests that were positive jumped by a whopping 87%. That’s a huge spike! So not only are more people seeking tests, but more of the test results are turning up positive, meaning that there is a real increase in the spread of the virus in our communities.

There are several reasons why case numbers are going up. There are more young people getting sick especially now that many schools and universities are having in-class teaching. In fact, as of Monday, there were 30 new outbreaks in schools, and 29 of them were in grades K through 12. Besides educational settings, there are cluster of cases happening in workplaces, long-term care facilities, and religious gatherings. There are also reports of community-acquired cases and cases linked to social gatherings.

We are seeing a rise in both hospitalizations and deaths. This is not surprising because once the numbers go up, so do hospitalizations. And hospitalizations are often followed by an increase in deaths. Let’s do another comparison between September and October. On Sept. 26, there were 503 people hospitalized in Michigan. On Oct. 26th, we had just over 1,400. Looking at deaths, September had 289 people pass from COVID-19. So far, October has almost 450 deaths. So the spike in numbers in such a short amount of time makes me very concerned. Now is the time for everyone to do their part. So that we can slow down the spread. Please be vigilant in wearing masks, washing hands, disinfecting, and physically distancing from those not in your household.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

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