COVID-19 continues surge in Mich., Colo.; Schools cited in Maine outbreaks

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April 17 (UPI) -- Coronavirus case counts continued to spike in Michigan and Colorado Friday and Maine health officials said schools account for nearly 70% of the state's active COVID-19 outbreaks.

As of Saturday afternoon, the United States had logged 31.6 million cases of the novel coronavirus and 566,714 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 tracker.

There were nearly 79,000 new cases and 940 deaths reported Friday, according to the New York Times COVID-19 dashboard, which also said 45,497 people were hospitalized with the illness Friday.

Overall, cases were up 8% and hospitalizations were up 9% but deaths were down 12% versus two weeks ago.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 129.5 million U.S. residents -- 39% of the total population -- have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; 24.8%, or 82.5 million people, have been fully vaccinated. The U.S. vaccinated three million people per day for the 10th straight day Friday.

Leaders of a church in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., told the Detroit News they were offering more than 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine at a walk-in clinic Saturday after a nearby pharmacy offered them doses on the verge of expiration.

"This is like a continuation of Holy Communion," said Rev. Bill Danaher of Christ Church Cranbook, which was administering the shots with a staff of about 60 volunteers. "People are receiving life-saving vaccines that are not unlike the body of Christ."

Michigan is facing another surge in COVID-19 cases, with younger, healthier patients filling hospitals this time and new variants of the virus -- specifically the B.1.351 and the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variants -- spreading throughout the community.

Michigan accounts for more than 10% of the country's daily cases, and is home to 16 of the 17 metro areas with the nation's worst recent case rates.

The state reported 9,806 new cases Friday and a seven-day average of 7,811 cases per day -- a 33% increase over two weeks ago, according to the NYT's data. The state averaged 54 deaths per day this week.

Michigan has recorded 867,166 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic and 17,848 total deaths. About 25% of state residents are fully vaccinated and 37% have received at least one dose.

Colorado officials also reported an increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations this week, with 500 people hospitalized in the state Friday -- the highest number since Feb. 5. Hospitalizations are up 19% from two weeks ago and the number of deaths is up 64%.

The state also reported 2,260 new cases of the virus Friday, according to CBS Denver.

About 1.4 million Coloradans -- or 24% of the state's total population -- are fully vaccinated, and 2.28 million have received one dose of the vaccine, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard.

The state has logged 490,164 total cases since the pandemic began and 6,326 deaths.

The Bangor Daily News reported Saturday that public and private K-12 schools comprised 52 of the 75 active outbreaks listed by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention this week.

But state officials say school-related cases represented only 10% of Maine's total cases last month, with just one school recording an outbreak of more than 10 cases.

Emily Oster, a Brown University economist who has tracked school cases through the COVID-19 School Response Dashboard, told the newspaper children are more likely to contract the virus from family members or -- less commonly -- from out-of-school activities like sports.

Maine schools are observing strict masking and social distancing protocols to minimize student contact, and Oster said outbreaks among children are likely to become more common as more adults get vaccinated.

"Children are less likely to be infected, in general, than adults," she said. "A caveat is that as all adults get vaccinated, we are likely to see relatively higher rates in children."

Maine reported 572 cases of COVID-19 Friday and a seven-day average of 442 new cases per day, an increase of 77% from two weeks ago. The seven-day average of deaths per day is two, and an average of 111 people have been hospitalized per day in the state this week -- up 13% from two weeks ago, per NYT data.

Nearly one-third of Maine residents are fully vaccinated, and 48% have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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