GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Daily COVID-19 numbers hit an all time high for Michigan on Thursday, with 5,710 new cases reported.
"Our local health departments are investigating over 590 outbreaks across the state," says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chief Deputy Director of the MDHHS. "The largest number since we began tracking these outbreaks."
State health officials made it clear on Thursday, not only is COVID-19 still here, the numbers are growing worse. Statewide, the average weekly death rate is up to 19, double what it was at the beginning of September. Kent County is a part of that trend.
"We're seeing an average of 9 deaths per week as of right now in Kent County," says Dr. Adam London, Director of the Kent County Health Department. "A month or so ago, we were only seeing a couple of deaths per week."
Dr. London says that total is likely due to the relaxed feeling of the public regarding social distancing.
"Many of these cases are linked to social gatherings," says Dr. London. "Things like birthday parties, funerals and sports."
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday she sent a letter to Republican legislators this week asking for a statewide mask mandate from Congress.
"We do think that it will be helpful to our health, our safety and our economy if it was codified in a bipartisan way with the legislature," says Governor Whitmer.
Dr. London agrees that masks, hand washing and social distancing are just as important as ever.
"Some of the factors driving the increase in cases right now are totally out of our control," he says. "Other things, like the decisions we make about avoiding social gatherings, are squarely within your ability to change."
A change Dr. Khaldun says must happen to avoid dire consequences.
"We have models that estimate that at the rate we are going, if we don't do anything else, if we don't change our behaviors, we could be seeing up to 100 deaths a day by the end of December," explains Dr. Khaldun.
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