COVID Update: New variants on the rise

New cases of COVID-19 rose 10% over the last week amid the spread of newer versions of the Omicron variant. COVID deaths also jumped in the past week.

Kalamazoo County: The number of people who died from COVID-19 shot up over the past week.

In its report on Tuesday, state health officials documented seven additional deaths in Kalamazoo County. That averages out to one death per day in a county that has reported just one to two deaths per week over the past few months.

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Most of the new reported deaths come from a review of previous death records. However, three of the reported deaths happened in the past seven days. That’s a small but significant increase over previous weeks’ death reports.

Meanwhile, new cases of the coronavirus also seem to be on the rise in Kalamazoo County. Health officials reported 463 new cases of COVID-19 in the county in the past week. That averages out to 66 new cases per day — an increase of nearly 12 over the previous week’s numbers.

Michigan: Infections and deaths also appear to be on the rise in the rest of the state.

State health officials reported that the daily average of new infections jumped from 1,780 to 2,050 per day over the past week. A total of 14,353 people are confirmed or presumed to have contracted COVID-19 in that time.

Health officials attribute the rise to the increasing spread of two newer versions of the Omicron variant. The BA.2 subvariant is still dominant in the state, with more than 50% of tested cases identifying this type. But two other subvariants — BA.4 and BA.5 — are on the rise. Experts have suggested these new subvariants may have the ability to more easily infect people who have already had COVID-19.

Deaths also increased in Michigan over the past week. State health officials reported 174 deaths since last Tuesday. The daily average more than doubled to 24.9 deaths per day. However, like with Kalamazoo, a significant portion of these new deaths came from a review of previous death records.

Hospitalizations are continuing to decline, but only slightly. As of Tuesday, 773 people with COVID-19 were being treated in hospitals in Michigan. That's a drop of just four from last week's number. Hospitalizations have been falling each week since March, but those decreases have been growing smaller and smaller.

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