Michigan is only state to see COVID cases and hospitalizations RISE amid surge in UK strain and low vaccination rates in the black community
- Michigan scaled back many COVID restrictions on March 5
- The state is the only one in the U.S. with a rise in cases and hospitalizations
- Hospitalizations have increased by 45 per cent from their February low
- More than 2,000 new cases were reported for the first time since January 16
- Experts blame vaccine reluctance and the proliferation of the U.K. strain
Michigan is the only state in the country to have a rise in COVID-19 cases – a surge which is being blamed on vaccine hesitancy among the large community of black citizens, and a high preponderance of the U.K. variant.
The number of hospitalizations in Michigan have increased by 45 per cent from their February low, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Cases were also on the rise: the seven-day average for new cases was 2,530, but on Thursday a significantly higher figure – 3,785 – was reported.
This is the second straight day the daily average for cases has exceeded 2,000 and the highest such average since January 16.
Public health experts say vaccine hesitance is a large factor in Michigan’s problem.
Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, further lifted COVID restrictions on March 5
Statewide, only 28 per cent of black residents aged over 65 are known to have received a first dose of vaccine – compared to 66 per cent of over 65s nationwide.
Among all U.S. citizens, the percentage of those having had at least one of their shots is currently 22.7, according to the CDC.
Michigan has administered 34,008 doses per 100,000 people.
Neighboring Wisconsin is 37,959: New Mexico and Alaska are leading the table, with 47,884 and 47,993 respectively.
Georgia is at the bottom of the rankings, with 27,375.
Meanwhile, the CDC also reports that Michigan has the second-most confirmed cases of the U.K. strain, the B.1.1.7 variant, after Florida.
The variant is considered more infectious, but it is not thought to be more deadly.
The strain could be leading to a spike in cases in the state.
Nationally, the United States has now seen 29,665,202 cases, and 539,663 deaths.
Public health experts say it is a race against time to get people vaccinated before more dangerous variants emerge.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top public health expert, on Thursday urged Michigan residents to hang on a little longer until the ‘overwhelming proportion’ of the population was vaccinated.
Vaccine uptake among the black community in Michigan is worryingly low (pictured is a woman in Benton Harbor, Michigan, being injected on March 9)
He praised the state governor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer – who has come under fire from Republicans for imposing COVID restrictions.
Fauci said she was ‘really good’, but urged her state to hold off for a ‘bit’ when it comes to pulling back restrictions related to the virus.
Restrictions were loosened on March 5, with Michigan restaurants allowed to open at 50 per cent capacity instead of 25 per cent, and stay open until 11pm instead of 10pm.
Retail shops are now allowed to operate at 50 per cent indoor capacity, up from 30 per cent, and venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys and other entertainment purveyors were permitted to increase indoor capacity to 50 per cent, up to 300 people.