State health chief warns of 100 deaths per day by New Year

Michigan's Chief Medical Executive said the pandemic could get much, much worse if current trends continue.

In a press conference Thursday, the state’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun warned that signs are showing COVID-19 getting much worse before it gets better.

“We’re seeing more than five times the number of new cases per day now than we saw in early September,” she said. Kalamazoo County in particular has seen its highest new COVID-19 case counts in just the past week.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

A weekday morning email roundup of Kalamazoo stories and events.

The current trends are worrying, especially in southwest Michigan where the test positivity rate has surpassed 9%.

“We have models that estimate that at the rate we are going if we don’t do anything else, if we don’t change our behaviors, we could be seeing up to 100 deaths a day by the end of December,” said Khaldun.

“We are really at a tipping point right now when it comes to COVID-19 in the state. Our rates are rising exponentially and we have general community spread. This means that the cases we’re seeing are not just associated with outbreaks. Many people, in fact as many as 50% of positive cases that we investigate, have no idea how they got the virus.”

During the same press conference, Governor Gretchen Whitmer called on the state legislature to pass a statewide mask mandate. There is already a mask mandate in place, issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Whitmer said the legislature could give the requirement extra legitimacy.

The average story costs NowKalamazoo $400 to produce. Donate to fund stories like this.