Coronavirus cases are as high as they were in May – why that’s good news

Health officials say the situation in September is very different from what it was four months ago. High COVID case numbers are no cause for panic.

As of Saturday, Michigan is averaging 677 new cases of COVID-19 per day. New case numbers have hovered around that number for weeks, varying by a few dozen cases here or there.

So far, September’s daily infection rates are very similar to what they were in May. Back then we were still under a statewide stay-at-home order with many businesses required to remain closed. Health officials say it’s different this time.

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The big reason for the difference is statewide testing rates, according to health officials interviewed by Bridge Michigan.

In May, Michigan labs were processing 10,000 to 20,000 COVID-19 tests per day. Today they’re regularly processing twice that. Yet the number of cases is roughly the same. That means the percent of positive test results is much lower.

As of Friday, about 3.4% of tests came back positive. In May that rate was much higher, peaking at 9.1% on May 17.

There are also differences in who is getting sick, where they are, and how sick they get.

In the spring infections were concentrated in big cities and among the elderly. Now, COVID-19 has spread into rural areas and among a much younger group of people. Also, hospitalization rates are much lower than they were in the spring.

None of that means people can let their guards down. Social distancing and mask wearing are what got us to this point in the pandemic, and the experts emphasize that they need to continue.

You can read the full story here.

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