Sign of brighter times: Michigan's new Covid cases and deaths decline in February

February 28, 2021, 8:35 AM by  Alan Stamm

Dark times may be easing and brighter months could be ahead, if a one-month decline in new Covid cases and deaths continues in Michigan.

A Deadline Detroit analysis of daily state health department figures shows that new coronavirus deaths rose 36.5% since Feb. 1 and new cases climbed 37% this month. Both percentages are notably lower than January's increases.

To be clear: Each category still rises steadily day-by-day and the pandemic remains a serious public health risk affecting 587,581 people since March and killing 15,522 in 11 months. (More than 541,200 of patients with nonfatal infections, 92%, are classified as recovered.)

Increased vaccinations already contribute to lower rates of infections and deaths. (Photo: Beaumont Health)

But the rate of increase -- new cases and deaths as a share of the cumulative total -- slowed meaningfully this month after a January rise attributed partly to winter holiday travel and socializing. Another factor is the increasing number of partly and fully vaccinated people.

"Michigan is doing well compared to a lot of other places in U.S.," Dr. Joineigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executyive, tweeted recently. "But the virus is still quite prevalent and we know the B117 variant is here."

Here's data from the past three months:

February changes (through Feb. 27):  21,446 new confirmed cases (37% more than new January diagnoses) | 668 added deaths (36.5% above January's rise)

January changes: 57,969 new cases (52% more than new December cases) | 1,829 additional deaths (up 51%, compared to December's increase) 

December changes: 111,584 new cases (28% more than were added in November) | 3,317 added deaths (34% higher than November's change)

One month's slower rates of increase are not necessarily the start of a trend, naturally. But day-by-day data since Jan. 1 also has other encouraging figures:

  • Confirmed Covid deaths have been below 20 each day since Feb. 17 and in single digits since last Thursday. (Six new cases were listed Saturday, along with 62 earlier ones identified belatedly.)
    January had no single-digit days and none below 33 deaths on Jan. 30 

  • February's average daily deaths are just under 25, as of Saturday.
    January's average was 59 (counting four more days).

  • This month's deadliest day, Feb. 5, had 47 virus fatalities reported.
    The highest one-day toll of 2021 so far was 86 deaths reported Jan. 1.

In Lansing, Dr. Khaldun of state government tweets this weekend: "The authorization of a third vaccine [from Johnson & Johnson] is a big deal. All three are safe and effective and will help us end this pandemic. We will have these in Michigan this coming week."

Michigan's vaccination rollout has reached 1,357,642 people with first doses, as of Friday. Nearly 775,000x of them are fully protected with second shots.

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