2/17/21: COVID variant now in 12 counties, 157 people

New infections rise slightly. Kalamazoo County has had no COVID deaths in nearly a week.

Variants: State health labs have now confirmed 157 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus in Michigan. Those numbers shot up after researchers discovered almost 90 cases of the new strain in a prison in Ionia County.

The variant is estimated to be 50% more contagious than previous strains of the coronavirus. That has health officials worried about a potential spike in COVID-19 infections in the coming month.

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So far, four people have been discovered with the variant in Kalamazoo County. Most of them reported no travel in recent weeks, which suggests they contracted the virus from someone in the community.

Michigan: The state saw a small increase in the number of coronavirus infections on Wednesday.

State health officials reported 939 new cases of COVID-19, which pushed the seven day moving average up slightly to 901 new cases per day.

The state also reported 11 new deaths from the virus. The state’s daily average stayed steady at just over 30 deaths per day over the past week.

Kalamazoo County: County COVID metrics continued to decline on Wednesday.

Health officials reported 23 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the seven day average down to just over 19 new cases per day.

The county did not report any new deaths on Wednesday. It has been almost one week since anyone in Kalamazoo County died from the coronavirus. In one more day, the county will have a seven day average of zero deaths.

Vaccines: The state has administered nearly 1.7 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine since the beginning of December. However, vaccination efforts may be stalling as the state struggles to obtain enough doses to meet demand.

On Tuesday, the state was averaging just about 40,000 inoculations per day over the previous week. That’s short of the record high vaccination rates seen last week.

Meanwhile, Kalamazoo County is reaching new highs in its vaccination efforts.

On Tuesday, the county administered a record 2,106 doses of the vaccine. That brought the seven day average to almost 2,000 inoculations per day.

So far, more than 17,000 people in Kalamazoo have received the first dose of the vaccine with another 17,535 having completed both inoculations.

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