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COVID-19 Vaccinations in Michigan Increase as Delta Variant Creates New Pandemic Fears

August 6, 2021
Crain’s Detroit Business
Aug. 4, 2021
Dustin Walsh

  • First doses up 60 percent in late July over monthly average
  • 32 counties now considered at high or substantial risk of transmission
  • Cases and hospitalizations also rising

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and vaccinations are on the rise in Michigan — all a result of the especially contagious delta variant.

Michigan has largely been spared the major outbreaks like Florida and Arkansas have seen in recent weeks, but cases in the state are rising, averaging about 905 new cases per day last week from 377 average the week prior. The state reported 294 COVID-related hospitalizations across the state last week, up from 256 the week before. Deaths are also slightly up, but remain at near the lowest levels of the pandemic thanks to effective treatments and vaccine effectiveness.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 32 counties in the state with either a high or substantial level of coronavirus transmission, up from just 10 late last week.

Those counties are: St. Joseph, Cass, Branch, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Jackson, Allegan, Barry, Ingham, Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, Shiawassee, Clinton, Ionia, Muskegon, Saginaw, Tuscola, Huron, Mason, Iosco, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Charlevoix, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Delta, Dickinson, Iron, and Ontonagon.

Fear of the delta variant has sparked many unvaccinated people to get inoculated. Since July 5, doses administered across the U.S. have been rising. About 517,000 more first doses were administered on Aug. 1 than on July 31. But in Michigan, the increases are slightly muted.

Between July 25 and July 31, there were 41,150 first doses administered in the state, up from 35,952 first doses the week prior. In fact, first doses have been rising for the entire month of July, up from 28,770 first doses administered the week of July 4-10.

July 30 was the highest vaccination day of the month with 7,727 first doses given — 60% higher than the average 4,821 daily first doses in July.

Kerry Ebersole Singh, director of the Protect Michigan Commission overseeing the state’s vaccine rollout, said fear of the delta variant is moving some people waiting on the sideline to seek out the vaccine.

“I think delta is definitely providing some urgency,” Ebersole Singh told Crain’s. “There are a lot of variables, but it seems folks are finally taking into account the danger and getting to that conclusion that it’s time to get the vaccine. Through our public opinion research, we’ve learned there is a segment of folks that are afraid to get COVID but also very nervous to get the shot. Part of that segment is definitely now very attuned to the variant that is spreading very rapidly and feeding on the unvaccinated.”

The state plans to launch a new ad campaign in the coming weeks to show the dangers of COVID-19 to younger residents. The campaign will feature ads from a young mother who nearly died from the coronavirus right after giving birth.

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