Update 6/22/20: Northwest Michigan Health Services corrected numbers it shared with IPR.
Last week, it overstated the number of asymptomatic COVID-19 tests in Traverse City by about 600 tests. Northwest Michigan Health Services said the discrepancy was that they accidently provided IPR the number of appointments set, rather than the number of tests taken. Not all the scheduled asymptomatic patients received the test.
The pandemic is in check in northern Michigan, for now.
This week, just a few new cases of COVID-19 were reported in northern Michigan. Two were discovered in Grand Traverse County and a few others in Crawford, Manistee and Wexford Counties.
As virus drops off in Michigan, state preparedness improves
Across the state, new infections and deaths are rapidly decreasing so much that the website COVID Act Now indicated this week Michigan has low COVID-19 risk and is on track to contain the disease. The website analyzes four factors: infection rate, positive test rate, available ICU beds and contact tracing.
Active, infectious COVID-19 cases are falling in Michigan. As of June 18, each positive individual has infected 0.75 other people. That’s a much lower rate than the height of the pandemic in Michigan in mid March when it’s estimated each person infected close to two or three people.
On June 19, The positive test rate is at about 1.5% in the state, according to COVID Act Now. The low rate indicates widespread testing is being done, which helps health departments get a picture of how many cases there are.
The website also reports there are adequate ICU beds available in the state right now to likely handle a second wave of the disease.
Furthermore, there are enough contact tracers that health departments are able to reach out to the infected people within 48 hours.
Positive testing rate inspires confidence
This week, Grand Traverse County reported that of the 835 tests performed at Turtle Creek Stadium on May 30 and 31, only five tests came back positive. They determined the overall positivity rate is .7%.
Experts say that’s a good sign. With increased testing of asymptomatic people results can give the county a better picture of how the virus is or is not spreading.
The Grand Traverse County Health Department doesn’t have data on the total number of asymptomatic people tested. But it did report of the 37 residents who tested positive for COVID-19, 12 were asymptomatic.
Northwest Michigan Health Services, a health care provider in the region, has run 1,360 tests in Traverse City, with about 43% of those tested showing no symptoms. There were nine positive tests and four were asymptomatic.
What does this mean? The number of asymptomatic people testing positive at the Traverse City site is low, less than one percent. While this is just one site, and those tested may not be representative of the population, it’s still a good sign that the virus has not spread as much among people without symptoms here.
Public health officials still at work on concern areas
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is worried about people behind on their immunizations. They saw a big drop off in vaccinations during the last three months, especially with child vaccinations.
That mirrors state-wide trends. On May 22, the Centers for Disease Control reported up to date vaccinations for children less than two years old dropped by 50% in Michigan during the pandemic.
Regional health officials emphasized that health care facilities are safe for visits and that vaccines should be booked soon so they can fill the backlog by the end of the summer.
Preventing the spread of coronavirus in nursing homes is also still a key issue, health departments report.
This week the Governor announced there will now be regular testing for all long-term care facilities, regardless of if they have COVID-19 outbreaks or not.
Nursing homes are some of the worst hit spots. In Michigan, 34% of total COVID-19 deaths are at nursing homes. Up North, 11 deaths in Crawford and Otsego counties were attributed to outbreaks at care facilities.