COVID Update: By most stats, COVID coming down

New infections, hospitalizations, and positivity rates have all seen steep declines in recent days. But death numbers stay stubbornly high.

Michigan: By most measures, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be getting better in Michigan.

According to data published Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services, COVID hospitalizations and rates of infection seem to be on the decline, while the daily average of COVID deaths is holding steady.

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State health officials reported that 13,999 people contracted the coronavirus between Saturday and Monday. That caused the seven day average to drop to 5,481 new cases per day – down from a high of 7,366 new cases per day just two weeks ago.

The state’s positivity rate has plummeted from 20% on Dec. 2 to 16.2% in the week ending Monday. That means fewer COVID tests are returning positive results even though the total rate of testing hasn’t changed much.

Hospitalizations reached a pandemic high just one week ago, with 4,782 people being treated for the virus in hospitals throughout the state. As of Monday, that number had dropped by nearly 700 to 4,105 total patients. That’s still a very high number, but it seems to be declining rapidly.

The only number not to come down was that of people dying from COVID-19. The state reported 160 deaths caused by the coronavirus over the weekend. That put the seven day average at 106.29 deaths per day – exactly what it was on Friday.

COVID deaths are considered a lagging indicator, which means fatality numbers follow infection numbers by about two weeks. That suggests that in early January we should see the number of deaths begin to decline.

Kalamazoo County: The stats in Kalamazoo County are following the same basic trend as the rest of the state, with infection, hospitalization, and positivity numbers declining in recent days.

Health officials reported 316 new cases of COVID-19 over the course of the weekend. The county's seven day average didn't drop any, staying steady at 131 new cases per day.

However, case numbers have been declining for most of the past month. The average of new infections peaked at a pandemic high of 201 new cases per day on Nov. 19. Since then, they've mostly gone down. Monday's total is still extremely high but moving in the right direction.

There were no new deaths reported since Friday. That meant Kalamazoo County's seven day average fell to just under two deaths per day.

Hospitalizations continue to be a problem, though total numbers have come down some in the past week. As of Monday, 123 people were being treated for COVID-19 in the county's two hospitals - down from 137 a week ago. However, both hospitals continue to be inundated with COVID patients with Ascension Borgess Hospital reporting that it was operating at 98% capacity.

In good news, the county's positivity rate has dropped dramatically since the beginning of the month. In the week ending Sunday, 14.86% of COVID-19 tests conducted in the county returned positive results. That's still very high, but it's a sharp decline from the record 19.45% positivity rate reported on Dec. 1.

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