Michigan's coronavirus deaths surge as older cases are added to tally

click to enlarge A visualization of the coronavirus. - Shutterstock
A visualization of the coronavirus.

Michigan reported 232 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, the largest one-day increase since the crisis began, bringing the state’s total to 2,700.

Of those, 95 were past cases that had not been processed. That means 137 people died in the past 24 hours, which is higher than the state’s average of 124 over the past week.

The state now has nearly 33,000 confirmed cases. With a shortage of testing kits, heath officials say the actual number of infected people is much higher. Before reopening the economy, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said it's critical to get a better estimate of how many infected people have gone undetected.

More than a third of the new deaths were reported in Detroit, which has more fatalities per capita than every big city except for New York City. Detroit now has 716 new deaths, up 87 in the past day.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Tuesday that the city likely won’t see a meaningful decline in deaths until there are enough testing kits for a sufficient number of asymptomatic people. The city and state began offering 500 daily tests this week to essential workers who aren’t showing symptoms, but Duggan says that's not nearly enough.

“We went up really fast, then we started coming down, and now we are at a flat level,” Duggan said of coronavirus deaths during a news conference Tuesday. “It’s going to be harder to knock it down.”

In the rest of Wayne County, 53 new deaths were reported. The county now has 1,278 deaths and nearly 1,500 positive cases.

Macomb County reported 42 new deaths, bringing its total to 445. The county also has 4,544 confirmed infections.

In Oakland County, the number of deaths rose to 506, up 29 in the past day.

Inside Michigan-operated jails, the coronavirus is spreading at a faster rate. In the past nine days, the number of positive cases among inmates rose from 335 to 615, a 83.6% increase. During the same period, the number of deaths quadrupled, from five to 20.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has declined over the past 10 days. There are 1,107 COVID-19 patients on a ventilator, up five from Tuesday.

Whitmer is expected to extend her stay-at-home order, which expires at the end of the month, until the state can significantly increase the number of available tests.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.