Don’t Panic, Michigan
With 232 reported deaths, Tuesday was a record-setting day for Michigan’s COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only was it easily the highest single-day death toll, topping the 205 reported on April 10, it came after three straight days with counts near 80.
However, it isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. There hasn’t been a major outbreak in a second part of the state and Metro Detroit’s health-care system hasn’t suddenly collapsed. There are simply a couple significant quirks in the way deaths are being reported.
First, the 232 was reported on a Tuesday. A clear pattern has developed in much of the US and Europe — daily deaths tend to dip on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays before rising (often sharply) on Tuesdays. Why? Because even in a pandemic, things don’t work quite as efficiently on the weekend. Every day at 3 pm, Michigan announces all the deaths it had received by 10:00 that morning.
That means, on a Thursday, most of the deaths in the state report happened on Wednesday, if not earlier. Ideally, every COVID-19 death would be reported immediately, but reality doesn’t work that way. There are always a number of weekend deaths that don’t get passed along until Monday, which puts them into Tuesday’s report on the state website.
The other important thing to know is, as it should be, Michigan is making a serious effort to count every death related to SARS-CoV-2. Once or twice a week, corrected records are added to the count, causing an artificial spike. Tuesday, there were 95 such records along with the normal daily total of 127.
Those corrections also accounted for the jump to 205 on April 10, which included 30 reclassified records. There were 65 more in April 16’s total of 173.
All that means there’s no “real number” of deaths per day. However, even given the corrected records in Tuesday’s report, the last four days have averaged 118 deaths. That’s a decline from early in the month, when the average was closer to 140.
There is also continued improvement in state hospitalization data. In the last week, Michigan has seen a 16% drop in the number of people receiving inpatient care, an 8% drop in critical-care patients and a 12% drop in patients on ventilators.
Metro #Detroit’s numbers are even better — 18% fewer inpatients, 10% fewer critical patients and 13% fewer patients on ventilators.
There’s still a lot to do before Governor Whitmer can reopen the state — scientists say the declines need to be steady for two weeks and there needs to be a major increase in our testing capability — but if people listen to the scientists and not the protesters, we have a real chance to get there.
(All Michigan data from the state’s Coronavirus website)