Your daily COVID-19 briefing: 680 new cases, 11 deaths

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Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — State health officials in Michigan are reporting 680 new cases and 11 deaths due to the coronavirus in the state, bringing the total to 113,863 and deaths to 6,623.

Today in a press conference, the state health department’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, reported the breakdown of COVID-19 trends across the state with Grand Rapids, Lansing and the Upper Peninsula totaling more than 70 cases per million per week, a rate that was previously at 20-30 cases per million just one month ago.

Dr. Khaldun cited outbreaks at colleges and universities for the increase in cases in those three regions.

In the Kalamazoo and Jackson area, cases are at a 40 per million rate while the deaths across the state remain steady, she said.

Today’s case report comes as the Ottawa County Department of Public Health told Grand Valley State University students to stay at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Starting Thursday, students must stay in their homes — on or off-campus — through Oct. 1, though they may still go to class, get food, exercise, go to medical appointments, and fulfill religious obligations. They may go to work if deemed essential and if their employer OKs their return.

As students are resuming online classes while residing in off-campus housing, Michigan is still facing criticism in Washington from GOP lawmakers and Democrats after the Civil Rights Division in late August expressed it wanted to determine whether Michigan’s orders requiring admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home patients.

Today though, a top health official, Robert Gordon, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services defended Michigan’s handling of nursing home residents infected with COVID-19, stating Michigan has been “strong” compared to other states, the Associated Press reports.

From the Associated Press:

“There are many complexities to standing up and creating entire facilities for only COVID-positive people,” he told a joint legislative oversight committee. “There are many risks around it.”

If existing facilities were used, uninfected people would have to be transferred out, he said. A new facility would have “limited utility” in a state as large as Michigan, he said, “and you still need to staff, provide equipment and license that facility.”

Gordon said he did not disagree with critics questioning the common sense of allowing positive patients to return to homes where they are isolated, but the “profoundly imperfect” strategy is “functioning reasonably well.”

He also said allegations that Michigan forced nursing homes to accept transfers are “false.”

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