State reports 24 new COVID-19 school outbreaks

By: - February 23, 2022 3:03 pm

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported Wednesday that a total of 2,051,771 Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19 and 31,695 have died from the virus — an additional 5,931 cases and 312 deaths since Friday.

The new numbers combine Saturday’s, Sunday’s, Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s recorded cases and deaths, with an average of 1,186 new confirmed cases per day. DHHS publishes COVID-19 data three times weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. DHHS did not report COVID-19 data on Monday due to Presidents’ Day. 

DHHS also reported Wednesday that 1,522 people are hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. Of those individuals, 285 are in intensive care units and 154 are on ventilators. There are 57 children hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases.

DHHS reported that an additional 298,697 Michiganders have been identified as “probable” cases for COVID-19, as well as 2,675 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 2,350,468 statewide cases and 34,370 deaths.

The state is also reporting school- and sports-related COVID-19 outbreaks on a weekly basis. As of Tuesday, there were 393 new or ongoing COVID-19 clusters or outbreaks in pre-kindergarten-12 schools. 

Of those, 24 are new outbreaks reported Tuesday.

These numbers are typically reported on Mondays, but publishing was delayed due to Presidents’ Day. 

The state stopped reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in colleges and universities to “streamline the local health department weekly outbreak reporting survey to focus on congregate settings where patients and staff might be more at risk for infection and/or experience severe outcomes from infection” during the current surge in cases.

There are some holes in the state’s reporting of school-related outbreaks, as DHHS doesn’t track individual COVID-19 cases in schools and relies on local health departments to track and report. 

To be considered an outbreak, the local health department must have found three or more COVID-19 cases that may have shared exposure on school grounds and are from different households. Previously, the state considered an outbreak to be two or more COVID-19 cases. 

Case counts for school-related outbreaks include those associated with before and after school programs and cases originating from on-campus and off-campus student housing. 

According to DHHS spokesperson Lynn Sutfin, students or staff who were exposed to COVID-19 outside of school grounds and are not thought to have spread the disease on the school grounds are not included in the report.

Michigan’s two largest universities, University of Michigan and Michigan State University, are reporting significant outbreaks. 

Michigan State University reported that as of the week of Feb. 14 it was aware of 3,991 cases of COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff since the week of Aug. 2. University of Michigan reports that, as of the week of Feb. 19, 98 staff and students have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The virus has been detected in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. The state’s COVID-19 fatality rate is currently at 1.5%.

The first two cases of COVID-19 were reported in the state on March 10, 2020. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency that day.

Johns Hopkins University reports that there are about 428.72 million confirmed cases worldwide and 5.9 million deaths. The United States makes up a significant portion of those, as 78.6 million confirmed cases and 6.3 million deaths have been recorded nationally.

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Julia Forrest
Julia Forrest

Julia Forrest is a contributor to the Michigan Advance. She has been covering Michigan and national politics for two years at the Michigan Daily and OpenSecrets. She studies public policy at the University of Michigan.