3/29/21: State reports more than 1,200 cases of variant

Michigan passes 16K COVID deaths. Kalamazoo's positivity rate is highest this year.

Variants: There have now been 1,237 cases of the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus discovered in Michigan, according to the CDC’s variant dashboard.

Some health experts have suggested the variant may be to blame for recent surges in new COVID-19 infections in the state.

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Officials have also confirmed five cases of the B.1.351 variant in the state.

Both variants are believed to be 50% more contagious than dominant strains. The B.1.1.7 variant is also thought to be more deadly.

Michigan: The state passed 16,000 COVID-19 deaths on Friday – a grim reminder that the pandemic isn’t nearing an end.

State health officials reported 20 new deaths on Friday and 22 new deaths on Saturday. Despite rising infection rates, new death numbers have remained largely stable over the past month. The seven day moving average on Saturday was 18.4 deaths per day – close to what it was a week ago.

At the same time, new infection numbers continue to climb. On Friday, state officials reported 5,030 new cases of the coronavirus. They reported another 4,670 cases on Saturday. The seven day average is nearly 4,000 cases per day – higher than it was on Christmas.

The state’s positivity rate shot past 10% at the end of last week. In the week ending Friday, an average of 10.7% of COVID-19 tests conducted in the state returned positive results.

Hospitalizations have also continued to rise. On Friday, 1,940 people were being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals in the state. That’s 630 more people than a week earlier. The Michigan Hospital and Health Association reported that the rate of hospitalization for people in their 30s and 40s has reached the level it was during the fall surge.

Kalamazoo County: On Friday, a record 16.3% of COVID-19 tests conducted in the county returned a positive result. The only time the positivity rate has been higher was on November 15 – 17.5%.

County officials reported 108 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, pushing the seven day average to 78 new cases per day. That’s the highest it’s been since January 13.

The county also reported that one new person had died from the coronavirus. That throws off the county’s recent trend of low death numbers. Two people have died from the virus in the past week.

Vaccines: The state is expecting a major shipment of new COVID-19 vaccines this week. More than 500,000 doses of vaccine are supposed to be delivered to facilities throughout the state, including 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 200,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

That comes as the state is rushing to get more people vaccinated amid a surge of new coronavirus infections. Over 2.5 million Michiganders have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine so far, with half of those coming in just the past 30 days.

In Kalamazoo County, nearly 78,000 people have received at least one dose of a vaccine. That’s 36.4% of residents age 16 and over.

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