A spike in Michigan: The clearest sign the pandemic could worsen

The vaccination of people 65 and older and of nursing-home residents should blunt the death toll of a rise in cases. But according to state data, Michigan has administered first doses to 61 percent of its residents aged 65–74, and 62 percent of residents 75 and older. Detroit’s figures are much lower: The city has given first doses to only 43 percent of those aged 65–74 and 39 percent of people 75 and older. For comparison, the CDC reports that 66 percent of the U.S. population aged 65 and up has received at least one dose of vaccine. The numbers are even worse for Black people in Michigan: Statewide, just 28 percent of Black residents 65 and older are known to have received at least one dose of vaccine. Overall, Michigan has administered first doses to only about a quarter of its total population, and that number falls to 15 percent in Detroit…

As Michigan’s numbers go back up, the obvious next question is to what degree variants of concern are playing a role in this localized surge. Genomic surveillance remains limited in the United States, but from the numbers we do have, it seems as though the variant known as B.1.1.7, first identified in the U.K., is quite widespread in Michigan. In fact, according to the CDC’s tracking, the state of Michigan has the second-most confirmed cases of B.1.1.7 after Florida, despite having less than half the number of residents.

Although Michigan’s numbers indisputably show a resurgence of COVID-19, there are troubling signs in other parts of the country. Federal data show that per-capita hospitalizations in the New York area have remained among the highest in the nation.