LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) (09/11/2020)-More than 13-hundred new COVID-19 cases have been recorded across the state in the last 24 hours. That’s a relatively significant increase – and the state’s largest single-day jump since April — but that number alone doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s why ABC 12 reached out to an expert to put the data into perspective:
“To see those numbers… I was surprised.”
But just where are all of these new numbers coming from? Skeptics might point to the sheer number of coronavirus tests now being administered across the country.
Memorial Healthcare CEO Brian Long tells ABC 12 that’s likely only part of the bigger picture.
“We’re testing over four thousand tests ourselves on a monthly basis,” said Long. “Of these tests… at least 50-60 percent, the majority of those are individuals that are asymptomatic.”
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan’s testing capabilities have seen a massive build-up: from 7,109 on April 4 to 35,995 on September 10. The state’s overall positivity rating has also been downgraded from 68 percent in April to just four percent in September, in line with the time frame in which the state began testing asymptomatic patients.
But robust testing, says Long, can’t possibly account for the bulk of the curve Michigan’s seeing because a positive diagnostic test still means a new transmission.
“We’re seeing it in the university settings,” explained Long, pointing to one possible source of post-lockdown transmission. “The larger numbers of folks being out in all these areas and having greater contact, you’re going to have some additional spread. You just are.”
The lockdown lifted, people began to leave their homes, local businesses again lit up their open signs, only to discover the increased activity had given the virus a deeper foothold.
Large-scale events too, like last night’s Trump rally near Freeland – which MBS airport has estimated drew around ten thousand — coupled with ongoing protests throughout the nation prompt some concern.
“We need to apoliticize this,” argued Long. “The more people you have in close contact, your chances increase. Mathematically, they just do.”
During a Friday phone call, Long also pointed squarely to the virus’ changing demographics. A shift from the state’s most vulnerable populations to the teens and 20-somethings who number among the least at risk.
“It’s going to impact most of them less severely,” related Long.
Likely, says Long, partially responsible for a general statewide decline in COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths rates. As of Friday, the state listed 569 inpatient cases, 169 ICU patients and 77 on ventilators.
“There’s reason for hope and optimism,” explained Long. “We’re not out of the woods, but we’re not nearly as apprehensive… We are a quantum leap ahead of where we were just three months ago.”
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