4/2/21: Brazil variant discovered in Michigan

Other variant numbers rise in the state. New infection average passes 5K per day. New infections declining in Kalamazoo.

Variants: A new variant of the coronavirus has made its way to Michigan. State health officials reported that the P.1 variant has been discovered in Bay County. Due to limited genetic sequencing in the state, it is likely there are other cases of the P.1 variant in the community.

The P.1 variant emerged in Brazil late last year. It’s estimated to be more easily transmissible than dominant strains in the U.S., but so far not much is known about it.

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Health officials have also updated case numbers of other variants in the state. As of Wednesday, there have been 1,468 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, also known as the U.K. variant. The B.1.135 variant, also called the South Africa variant, has resulted in seven confirmed infections in Michigan.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a news conference on Wednesday that the B.1.1.7 variant is quickly becoming the dominant strain of the coronavirus in some parts of the country.

That likely includes Michigan, which has the second highest number of confirmed variant cases after Florida. California and Colorado are close behind.

Michigan: The state is now averaging more than 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day. That puts us in line with where we were in mid-December, just weeks after the peak of the fall surge of the pandemic.

State health officials reported 6,036 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday. That pushed the seven day average to 5,061 new cases per day.

Hospitalizations continue to rise dramatically in the state, driven by rising infection numbers among young and middle aged adults.

On Thursday, officials reported that 2,721 people were being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals in the state. That’s almost 150 more people than on Wednesday.

Despite all that, death numbers were flat on Thursday. State officials reported 49 new deaths from the coronavirus, with 33 coming after a review of previous death records. The seven day average stayed exactly the same as on Wednesday – 22.43 deaths per day over the past week.

Kalamazoo County: The average of new infections has actually decreased in Kalamazoo over the past three days.

County health officials reported 153 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and Thursday. That caused the seven day average to decline to about 88 new cases per day – down from a recent high of 101.3 cases per day on Tuesday.

The county reported one new death from the coronavirus. The seven day average stayed flat at 0.3 deaths per day.

Hospitalizations in the county have risen slightly since Monday, with one county hospital approaching full capacity.

Bronson Methodist Hospital was caring for 49 COVID-19 patients on Thursday – four more than the previous day. It reported being at 95% capacity.

Meanwhile, Ascension Borgess Hospital actually saw its capacity number drop a little to 79%. The hospital was treating 23 COVID-19 patients on Thursday.

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