This State Flattened the Curve, Now Cases Are Rising. Here's What Happened.

Michigan saw 323 new coronavirus cases in just one day, with numbers rising sharply since mid-June.

After successfully flattening the curve of its coronavirus cases, Michigan is seeing infections rise once again. In a press conference on April 27, Joneigh Khaldun, MD, Michigan's chief deputy for health, noted the state's "overall plateau" in cases, calling it one of many "really positive signs" for the Great Lakes State. However, Michigan's phased reopening throughout June has coincided with a notable spike in new coronavirus diagnoses.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the state reported its highest number of new infections since May 31 this week, with 323 new cases of coronavirus confirmed as of June 23. The number of new weekly coronavirus cases has continued to rise throughout June, as well—on June 15, the seven-day average for new weekly infections was 152; as of the 23rd, the average was 223.

So, what's the source of this significant increase in infections? Signs point to the state's phased reopening plan as a possible contributor. Restaurants and bars began to host patrons at 50 percent capacity throughout the state as of June 8, while some hair salons, nail salons, and barbershops began welcoming customers again as of June 10, with statewide reopening of personal care services as of June 15. The state has had a total of 68,555 coronavirus cases as of June 24, with 6,114 total deaths—a 9.5 percent fatality rate among those infected and tested thus far.

closed sign on door of michigan business
Shutterstock/Andrew Boydston

However, while infection numbers are rising, so are rates of coronavirus testing. On May 1, 10,949 daily diagnostic tests were administered to Michiganders; by the June 23, that number had risen to 16,161.

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The spike in new infections has put further reopening plans on hold for the time being. In a statement to WWJ Newsradio on June 23, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that Michigan will not be entering phase 5 statewide—the "containing" phase of her reopening plan—in the coming weeks, as initially anticipated. Two of Michigan's eight regions—the Traverse City region and the Upper Peninsula—have already entered phase 5, but the remaining six regions will have to wait.

"We're not in a position to do that yet," said Whitmer of entering phase 5 statewide, which would increase the size of gatherings and reopen the bulk of businesses, reduce travel limitations, and make live instruction in K-12 schools possible once again. "We've gotta get more data, because we are concerned." And for more insight into the spread of coronavirus, discover why This State Has Seen Record COVID-19 Hospitalizations For 12 Straight Days.


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