COVID Update: Deaths lower than expected, but still bad

Nearly three weeks after COVID infections shot up, death numbers haven't kept pace. Hospitalizations went down as well. But we're not out of the woods yet.

Michigan: It has been approximately three weeks since the number of daily new COVID-19 infections in Michigan began to rise quickly. Spurred by the Omicron variant, new cases jumped from 8,000 per day on Dec. 29 to 15,000 per day on Jan. 7 to more than 17,000 per day on Wednesday. But the number of deaths hasn’t kept pace.

Deaths have been a lagging statistic of the COVID-19 pandemic. That means when infection numbers increase, historically deaths have increased about two weeks later. That hasn’t been the case this time around.

In its latest accounting on Wednesday, state health officials reported that Michigan was averaging 17,589 new cases of COVID-19 per day. That count has broken records with almost every report for the past month. Meanwhile, death numbers have not.

Health officials reported a seven day average of 107.43 new deaths per day on Wednesday. That number is extremely high, to be sure. But it isn’t record-breaking. Nor is it a stark increase from death averages before it.

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That may be because of vaccinated people contracting the virus and not becoming severely ill. It could also suggest that Omicron doesn’t cause as severe infections as previous variants. There isn’t enough data to draw any conclusions.

In other news, hospitalizations declined on Wednesday after climbing for most of the past month. A total of 4,774 people were being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals in the state, straining resources and forcing some hospitals to delay surgeries and other procedures.

Kalamazoo County: Things have been different in Kalamazoo County. The daily average of new COVID infections has declined, while deaths have gone up.

Health officials reported on Wednesday that new cases of COVID-19 had dropped to 505.71 new cases per day on average. That's still the second highest number that average has been, but it's also lower than the 538 new cases per day that it was on Jan. 10.

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Meanwhile, health officials counted 11 new deaths from the coronavirus in Kalamazoo County since last Friday. That pushed the seven day average upward to 2.14 deaths per day - far from a record, but still a rise.

Hospitalizations have gone down in Kalamazoo County just as they have in the state. The two county hospitals reported a combined COVID patient total of 135 people as of Monday. That's still really high, and both hospitals are dealing with near capacity situations. But it's a decline from the 142 people who were being treated a week earlier.

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