Michigan surpasses ‘sobering’ milestone of 1 million COVID-19 cases

Whitmer admin. stresses importance of getting vaccinated

By: - September 22, 2021 4:51 pm

Detroit COVID-19 Healing Memorial, Aug. 31, 2021 | Ken Coleman

On March 10, 2020, the first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Michigan.

Eight days later, Michigan’s first death of the pandemic was reported.

And now, a year and a half later, Michigan surpassed one million COVID cases. On Wednesday afternoon, the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported there have been 1,001,989 confirmed COVID cases since the pandemic began. 

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun | Whitmer office photo

“After more than 18 months fighting this pandemic, it is sobering to reach the milestone of one million confirmed cases,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for the state of Michigan and the chief deputy director for health in the state DHHS. “We have also lost over 20,700 lives to this disease, and we are all dealing with the way this pandemic has impacted the physical, mental and economic health of our state.”

In August, Michigan passed 20,000 COVID-19 deaths. The death toll now stands at 20,781.

The names of those who have died are people who filled all corners of our state. They are people who, not long ago, filled our dining tables, celebrated at our birthday parties and weddings, loved us and worked and raised families and dreamed. They are people like 5-year-old Skylar Herbert of Detroit; Bishop Nathaniel Wells, Jr., a 78-year-old pastor in Muskegon; 54-year-old state Sen. Morris Hood III; and Divina Accad, a 72-year-old Veterans Affairs nurse in Detroit.

They are people who were here, and now they are not. They are people whose faces were once in front of us, laughing and crying and singing, and now exist in photo frames, their faces forever frozen in time.

This pandemic is filled with endless stories that will never make their way to print, stories of the people who have not died but have been sickened and are now fighting ongoing health battles as COVID wreaks havoc on our well-being in ways we still don’t fully understand. 

In the wake of more than 1 million COVID cases and 20,700 deaths, Khaldun and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are turning to the phrase that echoes throughout the hallways of hospitals across the state, where unvaccinated people are dying: Get the vaccine to save your life. Get the vaccine to save the lives of those you love. 

“This is yet another strong reminder that we have to stress just how important it is to continue taking this virus seriously,” said Whitmer spokesperson Bobby Leddy. “At the start of this pandemic, we didn’t have every tool at our disposal. Now we know, without a doubt, that the vaccines are the most effective way Michiganders can protect themselves from COVID-19.”

“The best way to honor those who we have lost and those battling COVID-19 is to continue to encourage everyone to make the choice to get vaccinated,” Leddy continued. “[The] administration will continue to follow the science and make decisions that protect public health and save lives.” 

Khaldun said that “while we are currently still fighting this pandemic back,” she is “encouraged because we have come such a long way and have the tools we need to beat this virus.” She noted that just over 51% of Michiganders, almost 5.2 million people, are fully vaccinated. 

“We have new medical therapies, like monoclonal antibodies, that can help prevent severe illness,” Khaldun said. “And we know that things like wearing masks and social distancing can allow us to more safely participate in the things we love to do. I ask everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

The chief medical executive then turned to those working in our public health fields and hospitals, the people who have dealt with wave after wave of COVID, those who have continued to show up to work while facing the trauma that has gripped their own lives throughout the pandemic.

“I would … like to especially thank all of the public health staff and hospital workers who continue to battle this pandemic on the front lines,” Khaldun said.

The best way to honor those who we have lost and those battling COVID-19 is to continue to encourage everyone to make the choice to get vaccinated.

– Bobby Leddy, spokesperson for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

The numbers reported by the DHHS on Wednesday represent an increase of 6,079 cases since Monday. Eighty-one people died from COVID-19 this Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Wednesday’s numbers combine Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s recorded cases and deaths, with an average of about 3,040 new confirmed cases per day. DHHS publishes COVID-19 data three times weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The deaths announced include 52 deaths identified during a vital records review. DHHS conducts this review process two times per week.

DHHS also reports that an additional 123,575 Michiganders have been identified as “probable” cases for COVID-19, as well as 1,346 probable deaths. The department began tracking probable cases on April 5, 2020.

Combining the state’s confirmed positive cases with probable cases brings the total up to 1,125,564 statewide cases and 22,127 deaths.

The virus has been detected in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. The state’s COVID-19 fatality rate is currently at 2.1%.

As of Sept. 17, the state reports that 906,096 people have recovered from COVID-19.

Johns Hopkins University reports that there are about 229.9 million confirmed cases worldwide and 4.7 million deaths. The United States makes up a significant portion of those, as 42.4 million confirmed cases and 680,166 deaths have been recorded nationally. 

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Anna Gustafson
Anna Gustafson

Anna Gustafson is the assistant editor at Michigan Advance, where her beats include economic justice, health care and immigration. Previously the founder of the Muskegon Times and the editor at Rapid Growth Media in Grand Rapids, Anna has worked as an editor and reporter for news outlets across the country. She began her journalism career reporting on state politics in Wisconsin and has gone on to cover government, racial justice and immigration reform in New York City, education in Connecticut, the environment in Wyoming, and more. Previously, Anna lived in Argentina and Morocco, and, when she’s not working, she’s often trying to perfect the empanada and couscous recipes she fell in love with in these countries. You’ll likely also find her working on her century-old home in downtown Lansing, writing that ever-elusive novel and hiking throughout Michigan.

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