No Thanksgiving COVID surge in Michigan

COVID numbers show a decline in infections and infection rates two weeks after the holiday.

Michigan seems to have dodged a bullet that has affected many other states – a Thanksgiving surge in COVID-19 infections.

Two weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday, new COVID-19 infections have declined significantly in Michigan and Kalamazoo County. Hospitalizations have also gone down, as have positivity rates.

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Health officials suggest less travel, smaller gathering sizes, and statewide restrictions on in-person activities are to thank for the relatively low numbers.

The Numbers: The day before Thanksgiving, the state reported an average of 6,710 new cases of COVID-19 per day. That was a small decline from the peak a week earlier, but still a high number. That measure has declined steadily since then, reaching just 4,800 new cases per day on Monday.

Kalamazoo County’s trajectory has been similar: On November 25, the county reported an average of 141 new cases per day. That number has declined to 82 cases per day as of Monday.

The number of people being treated by hospitals for COVID-19 has also gone down. There were more than 4,000 COVID-19 patients in Michigan on November 25. There are more than 200 fewer today.

Finally, the state’s positivity rate has shown promising declines. On the day before Thanksgiving, an average of 13.07% of coronavirus tests were returning positive results. That dropped two percentage points by Sunday.

Causes: There is a clear correlation between the COVID-19 restrictions ordered by the state’s health department on November 18 and declines in most infection measurements. But Michigan’s status is due to more than top-down restrictions.

Bridge Michigan reports that travel dropped significantly in Michigan over the Thanksgiving holiday when compared to 2019.

Records from the Michigan Department of Transportation show that the total of miles driven by Michiganders around Thanksgiving was down 39% over the previous year. State traffic engineer Chris Hundt said the drop is as if every person in Michigan drove ten fewer miles on Thanksgiving.

Deaths: There is one metric that isn’t showing improvement: Deaths from COVID-19. Those have continued to increase as other measurements have declined.

The state reported an average of 82 deaths per day from the coronavirus on the day before Thanksgiving. That has soared to 115 deaths per day as of Monday.

The reason is that deaths are a lagging indicator. Once new infection numbers start to climb, it can take at least a couple weeks for those new infections to result in new deaths. So, Monday’s death tally could be the result of rising infection numbers from as long as a month ago.

You can read more on Bridge Michigan.

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