4/5/21: Variants, kids causing surge in COVID

Positivity rate at its highest level since last April. Hospitalizations triple.

Variants: Health experts believe that the recent surge in new COVID-19 infections in Michigan may be caused by the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus.

Often referred to as the U.K. variant, B.1.1.7 is thought to be 50% more contagious than previously dominant strains of the coronavirus. It’s also believed to be more deadly.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci told WXYZ that the rise in cases of the variant could explain the surge.

As of March 31, the state had identified 1,468 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant. Labs have also identified seven cases of the similarly contagious B.1.351 variant and one case of P.1 variant.

Michigan has the second highest number of confirmed variants in the country, lagging behind only Florida.

Michigan: A rise in COVID-19 infections in children is also being cited as a source of Michigan’s surge.

Since February 19, infection numbers among children under 10 increased 230%. People age 10 to 19 rose 227%. Both age groups mark the highest increase in infection rates in the state.

At the same time, the state’s positivity rate has surpassed 15% making it the highest it’s been since April of 2020.

On Friday, 17.6% of COVID-19 tests conducted in the state returned positive results. The seven day average rose to 15.14%. The only time the state’s positivity rate has been higher was during the early days of the pandemic when testing capacity was still severely restricted, with only those at high risk of infection being screened.

The state’s new infection numbers continued to rise rapidly late last week. State health officials reported 5,498 new infections on Friday and 8,413 new infections on Saturday. The seven day average increased to 5,662 new infections per day.

Death numbers are rising as well. On Friday, the state reported 20 new deaths from the coronavirus. On Saturday, they reported 57 new deaths, with 51 coming from a review of previous death records. The seven day average increased to about 27 new deaths per day during the week ending Saturday – five more than the day before.

Hospitalizations increased on Friday by 80 people. The state reported 2,801 people being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals in the state. That’s three times what the number was at the beginning of March.

Kalamazoo County: The county’s new infection numbers ticked up slightly on Friday.

That day, county officials reported 114 new cases of COVID-19. The seven day average rose to 89 new infections per day – just one more than the day before.

No new deaths were reported, bringing the week average to zero.

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