COVID Update: 5 weeks of declines

COVID infection numbers have been dropping for five straight weeks now, but rates are still higher than they were a year ago.

Kalamazoo County: Five weeks ago, COVID-19 infection numbers were pretty high. Nearly 90 people were testing positive for the virus each day in Kalamazoo County. Those numbers have declined each week since then, signaling that the spring surge of the virus has ended. Still, infection rates are nearly ten times as high as they were this time last year.

Health officials reported 327 new cases of the coronavirus since last Wednesday. That brought the average to 54.5 new cases per day — down from 61 per day last week. But one year ago, on June 21, 2021, Kalamazoo County was averaging just 5.6 new infections per day.

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There could be a number of causes for the difference. Notably, the Omicron variant still spreading throughout Michigan is significantly more contagious than the variants that were prevalent last year. June of 2021 was right about when the Delta variant began picking up steam, and Alpha was still the predominant strain in Michigan.

Another cause for the discrepancy could be due to widespread vaccination efforts. The first iterations of the COVID-19 vaccine had been approved months earlier, but vaccination efforts were in full swing by June 2021. Vaccination rates have plummeted since then.

Kalamazoo County reported no COVID deaths in the past week.

Michigan: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has begun reporting COVID-19 data on Tuesdays each week instead of Wednesdays as they have been doing for months. That's intended to align Michigan with reporting by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Like Kalamazoo, the rest of the state has seen new infection numbers declining for five weeks straight. State health officials reported on Tuesday that 10,681 new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the previous six days. That brought the average down to 1,780 new cases per day.

The state reported 69 deaths caused by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections. That caused the average to fall by nearly ten to 11.5 deaths per day. Death averages have been all over the place the past few weeks — reaching nearly 20 deaths per day last week after hitting seven per day two weeks earlier.

Finally, hospitalizations continued to decline in Michigan this week. State hospitals reported they were caring for 777 people with COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, down 78 from last Wednesday.

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