Rising COVID-19 cases in Upper Michigan; UP in ‘Risk Level D’ on state website
(WLUC) - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is updating the way it denotes COVID-19 risk levels for regions in the state.
Previously, risk levels for all eight of Michigan’s regions outlined in Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan were denoted as low, medium, medium high, high, and very high risk.
Regions are now listed as Levels A through E based on test positivity rates and the number of coronavirus cases per million people, with Risk Level E being the highest. According to the MI Start Map website, the state adjusts the numbers in each region to “cases per million” so that counties and regions can be easily compared by epidemiologists.
Risk Level A is defined as a testing positivity rate between 3% and 7%, and seven to 20 cases per million.
Risk Level B is 7% to 10% positivity rate and 20 to 40 cases per million.
Risk Level C is 10% to 15% positivity rate and 40 to 70 cases per million.
Risk Level D is 15% to 20% positivity rate and 70 to 150 cases per million.
Risk Level E is anything over 20% positivity rate and anything over 150 cases per million.
“Low Risk” is defined as anything lower than 3% positivity rate and lower than seven cases per million.
Currently, the Upper Peninsula is at Risk Level D. The following pictures and information show the U.P.'s COVID-19 data history since March. You can view the interactive graphs yourself on the MI Start Map website.
It is important to note that these data include probable COVID-19 cases and excludes data from the Michigan Department of Corrections.
As of Sept. 20 (the most recent date for trend data), Upper Michigan’s testing positivity rate is 2.7% over a seven-day average, denoting a Low Risk Level.
The U.P.'s seven-day daily testing average as of Sept. 20 is 910.6 daily tests.
As of Sept. 20, the seven-day average number of cases was recorded at 160.3 per million, putting it in Risk Level E. The seven-day average of daily cases is 48.7 cases per day. Upper Michigan saw its largest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
A notable trend in rising cases began on Aug. 24. This is around the time many schools, including Upper Michigan’s universities, were starting back in session.
Deaths in Upper Michigan, however, have remained quite low. The current seven-day death rate in the U.P. is just one. The seven-day death rate in the U.P. has never been higher than one since the pandemic began in March.
As of Sept. 23, Upper Michigan’s death total is at 26 since the pandemic began in March.
The most notable rise in cases across U.P. counties has been in Houghton County, where 244 of its 310 total cases have been recorded in September.
According to the MI Start Map, Houghton County’s seven-day average number of cases as of Sept. 20 is 392.9 cases per million, denoting Risk Level E. The seven-day average number of daily cases as of Sept. 20 is 14.3 cases per day.
The Western U.P. Health Department has pointed to students returning to Michigan Tech University’s campus, and the university’s increased testing, as reasons for the rise in cases in September.
Houghton County’s seven-day average number of tests completed as of Sept. 20 is 125.1 tests per day. The positivity rate is 4.8%, denoting Risk Level A.
Gov. Whitmer said last week she was considering moving the U.P. back into Phase 4 of her reopening plan. The U.P. is currently in Phase 5.
As it stands right now under current executive orders, a regression to Phase 4 would mean tighter protocols for U.P. schools, and outdoor gatherings would be limited to 100 people.
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