Michigan may be nation's next COVID-19 hotspot: 7 things to know

After coming off a winter surge, new COVID-19 hot spots are emerging across the U.S. Michigan is of particular concern, with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations jumping in the last few weeks, NPR reports.

"It's definitely concerning," Emily Martin, PhD, epidemiologist at Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan, told NPR. "There's this feeling that it's time to drive toward normal, but we don't have the level of protection in the population that we need to really be doing that fully yet." 

Here are seven things to know: 

1. After slowing, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Michigan are now reversing their decline, with the new surge concentrated around Detroit, but affecting areas statewide, according to federal data. Among U.S. metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people, Detroit ranks fourth for percent change in COVID-19 hospital admissions compared to the week prior, and ranks first in increasing cases and test positivity, reports The COVID Tracking Project.

2. On Feb. 1, Michigan eased some restrictions, allowing indoor residential gatherings of up to 15 people from no more than three households; outdoor residential gatherings of up to 50 people; and indoor gatherings outside the home of up to 25 people. Masks and social distancing are required at all residential gatherings.   

3. Michigan has reported 616 cases of the U.K. variant B.1.1.7. This variant count, taken March 18 by the CDC, is exceeded only by Florida, which has reported 882 B.1.1.7 cases. In total, there are 5,567 known U.S. cases of the variant, identified in all 50 states.

4. "Michigan is the first state in the U.S. where we're really seeing this turnaround, what appear to be variants causing increase in cases," Nicholas Reich, PhD, associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told NPR. "I'm anticipating we will see multiple states have similar patterns to what we're seeing in Michigan now that will get us back up to some sort of mini surge."

5. In total, 26.3 percent of Michigan's population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, while 14.8 percent of the population is fully vaccinated as of March 17, according to state data

6. COVID-19 numbers are flat or slowly increasing in many parts of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest regions, according to David Rubin, MD, director of the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "There's a resurgence going on here," he told The Washington Post, adding that it's too soon to call the trend another "wave."

7. Two new factors will influence potential spring surges — variants of concern and rising vaccination levels. It's unclear how these two factors will affect new rises in cases and hospitalizations.


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