Five people in Michigan passed away due to complications caused by the novel coronavirus on Saturday, according to public health officials’ latest report.
The state’s updated fatality count as of Sunday marked the lowest daily increase in virus-related deaths Michigan has seen since March, near the pandemic’s onset.
Michigan’s Sunday figures denoted a new milestone in terms of single-day diagnosis counts as well.
According to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which publishes daily reports to chart its virus outbreak, 314 additional cases were confirmed in Michigan over the last 24 hours. Reports indicate fewer diagnoses had not been confirmed in a single day since March 23, when 263 new cases were reported statewide. Due to a technical error later acknowledged by the health department, Michigan’s May 3 case report incorrectly stated less than 200 new diagnoses had been confirmed.
Since the start of the United States outbreak, Michigan has experienced one of the highest incidences of cases, hospitalizations and deaths related to the novel coronavirus compared to numbers reported by other regions. As of Sunday, at least 54,683 Michigan residents had been diagnosed with the virus overall, the eighth-highest total confirmed by any U.S. state. New York, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas have each reported cases in greater quantities, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker.
Though Michigan’s case count is lower than the seven states mentioned, its death toll—at 5,223 on Sunday—surpasses those reported by Texas, Pennsylvania and Illinois. As multiple outlets have noted, including local news agency MLive.com, Michigan’s per capita hospitalization rate has been higher than most other states throughout the pandemic.
Given the state’s elevated outbreak numbers, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been careful to avoid reopening areas of the state’s economy too soon. Her decisions regarding ongoing business closures and social distance directives have garnered intense criticism from residents–some of whom stormed the state’s Capitol building in an armed protest April 30.
On May 21, Whitmer responded to an observed downturn in Michigan’s outbreak curve with an an executive order that allowed most nonessential businesses to resume in-person operations, following nearly two months of suspended activity.
“The measures put in place by these executive orders have been effective: the number of new confirmed cases each day has started to drop,” Whitmer’s order stated, referencing the terms of her administration’s initial stay-at-home directive, enacted March 23.
“We can now start the process of gradually resuming in-person work and activities that were temporarily suspended under my prior orders,” she continued. “In so doing, however, we must move with care, patience, and vigilance, recognizing the grave harm that this virus continues to inflict on our state and how quickly our progress in suppressing it can be undone.”
The order increased Michigan’s limitations on group gatherings to no more than 10 people, and allowed retail establishments and car dealerships to begin accepting customers by appointment starting May 26. On May 29, restrictions applied to medical and veterinary procedures will be lifted statewide. Additional regulations remain in place for most businesses, which must continue to conduct remote operations if possible, as well as residents.
Newsweek reached out to representatives from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as well as Governor Whitmer’s office for comment regarding the state’s decreasing daily case counts and fatality reports–but did not receive replies by time of publication.
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