3/10/21: South Africa variant discovered in Michigan

New infections continue to rise. New deaths edge upward. Vaccination updates.

Variants: A new variant of the coronavirus has been discovered in Michigan.

State officials announced on Tuesday that a male child in Jackson County has contracted the B.1.351 variant of the coronavirus. Usually referred to as the South Africa variant, the strain is estimated to be 50% more contagious than the dominant strains in Michigan.

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At the same time, officials announced that Michigan has 516 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus. Also significantly more contagious than other strains, the so-called U.K. variant has spread swiftly in the state since it was first discovered in January.

Michigan: New infections continue to rise in the state.

State health officials reported 954 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The seven day average actually declined slightly – to 1,250 new cases per day. However, the new case average has been rising steadily for more than two weeks and it is expected to continue to do so in the coming days.

The state reported 29 new deaths from the coronavirus on Tuesday. That caused the seven day average to go up slightly to 20 deaths per day.

Hospitalizations rose again on Tuesday, with 953 people reportedly being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals in the state. That’s 18 more people than on Monday.

Finally, the state’s positivity rate is rising. After nearing 3% in February, recent increases in infection numbers have pushed the positivity rate above 4% in recent days. On Monday, 6% of COVID-19 tests returned positive results, pushing the seven day average to 4.4%.

Kalamazoo County: New infections have been rising in the county for nearly a week.

County officials reported 67 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday. That pushed the seven day average to more than 39 new cases per day. That average has risen from about 31 new cases per day one week ago.

Officials reported no new deaths in the county for the fifth day in a row. The average stands at just 0.14 deaths per day over the past week.

The county’s positivity rate is approaching 7%. More than 9% of COVID tests conducted on Monday returned positive results, putting the seven day average at 6.83%. The county’s positivity rate has been rising for more than three weeks now.

Vaccines: More than 1.7 million people in Michigan have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday. The state reports that 21.2% of residents have been inoculated. Nearly 5,000 have received the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine, while another 963,000 have gotten both doses of one of the other two-dose vaccines.

Nearly 30,000 people in Kalamazoo County have received both doses of the two-dose vaccines. A total of 80,000 doses of vaccines have been given out in the county as of Monday.

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