25-year-old WMU student among 21 new Michigan COVID-19 deaths

By: - March 29, 2020 3:41 pm

Western Michigan University | Susan J. Demas

In Michigan, there are now 5,486 positive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, as of 3 p.m. Sunday, although state officials believe the actual number of cases is much higher. The state reports 132 people have reportedly died of COVID-19.

A statewide coronavirus hotline is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-888-535-6136. Information can be found on the DHHS website or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention website.

This is an increase of 836 positive cases and 21 deaths since Saturday.

On Saturday, 25-year-old Western Michigan University student Bassey Offiong died of COVID-19, according to a joint press release from the university and Kalamazoo County Health Department. 

State numbers show that people between the age of 20 to 29 only make up 9% of the positive cases in Michigan. 

Almost half of the state’s cases are found in Wayne County, and in Detroit alone, which is Michigan’s only city with its own health department, there have been 1,542 cases and 35 deaths reported. Combined with the rest of Wayne County’s numbers, those add up to 2,704 cases and 56 deaths in that county. 

There also have been 77 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported from Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) facilities, a significant increase from the 47 cases reported Saturday.


The new state-reported numbers only recently began incorporating data from other commercial and private labs and hospitals around Michigan, which caused an apparent spike in numbers that speaks more to the number of cases just now being publicly reported.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency on March 10, the day the first two cases of COVID-19 were reported in the state.

The World Health Organization reports that there are 638,146 confirmed cases worldwide and 30,105 deaths. The New York Times reports that at least 135,738 people across the country have tested positive for the virus and at least 2,391 patients with the virus have died.


Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, who is the lead medical advisor for the President Trump’s administration, estimates that the pandemic could cause between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in the United States.

Whitmer appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, where she steered away from questions about disputes between herself and Trump. 

Last week, the president said that he had directed Vice President Mike Pence to not call Whitmer when she seeks out federal assistance for the COVID-19 outbreak.

State medical chief: ‘We are still in the upslope,’ COVID-19 cases expected to rise for weeks

“I don’t have the energy to respond to every slight,” Whitmer told CNN News reporter Jake Tapper. “What I’m trying to do is work well with the federal government. … There are people from the White House on down who are working 24/7 just like we are at the states. We are all stressed because we have people that are dying right now. I need assistance and I need partnership. That’s what we’re starting to see out of the feds. We’re grateful for it, but there’s so much more work to do.”

On Saturday, Whitmer tweeted out that she had a “good call” with Pence. As the Advance first reported, the state also received 112,000 N95 masks. 

She told Tapper this shipment means the state will “make it through the weekend.”

Breaking: Michigan gets 100K N95 masks, federal disaster declaration

Michigan also got the disaster declaration Whitmer asked Trump for.

“We are not one another’s enemies. The enemy is the virus, and it is spreading and taking American lives,” Whitmer said on Meet the Press. “That’s precisely why we governors are banding together where we can to try to make sure that we are organized, we are learning best practices from one another, we’re sharing information and we’re protecting the people of our states.”

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.