Morning Sun

Two area counties see deaths triple over last year

Isabella fatalities increased by 103, in Clare by 80 since 2020

- By Eric Baerren ebaerren@medianewsg­

The final numbers of COVID-19’S toll in mid-michigan won’t be in for at least another month, but it is certain that 2021 will go down as deadlier than the pandemic’s first year in two midmichiga­n counties.

As of Dec. 31, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 48 COVID-19 deaths in Isabella County and 47 in Clare County. As of Wednesday, MDHHS reported that the number of deaths had grown to 151 in Isabella County and 127 in Clare County.

That is an increase of 103 deaths in Isabella and 80 in Clare, more than triple 2020’s final toll. One caveat is that the pandemic got underway after a quarter of 2020 was over, with the first deaths reported in both counties right around April 1.

Those are preliminar­y numbers, however. It is common for new deaths to get reported as death certificat­es filed with county clerks are forwarded to the state for final review. When death certificat­es list COVID-19

as the cause of death for an unresolved case in the state’s contagious disease surveillan­ce system, those deaths are reported and assigned to the date of death.

For instance, an additional 338 COVID-19 deaths were reported by the state Wednesday, its final date of reporting for 2021, with 232 discovered during a routine review of death certificat­es. So the number of deaths currently reported for 2021 dates will increase.

One new death was reported in Isabella County Wednesday, bringing the county’s total to 151. Clare County’s remained at 127.

Gratiot County was the only of the three counties where 2020 was deadlier than 2021. Of the county’s 151 deaths — an additional death was reported Wednesday, 66 involved 2021 deaths. The other 85 COVID-19 deaths took place in 2020.

It would not be unusual for additional deaths to be attributed to Gratiot County residents as death certificat­es are reviewed by the state.

In terms of the cause of death, COVID-19 was the third-highest in all three counties in 2020. It was also the third-leading cause of death statewide and nationally.

As of Wednesday, a cumulative total of 25,858 COVID-19 deaths were reported across Michigan since the start of the pandemic.

Cases continue to rise statewide, with the latest statewide counts reflecting an average of 12,929 new confirmed cases daily. While the Delta variant was previously surging statewide, many of the new cases were attributed to the Omicron variant, a much more transmissi­ble variant that is linked to generally less-severe disease outcomes.

As of Wednesday, more than 5 percent of total confirmed cases each in Isabella, Gratiot and Clare counties were reported in December.

The highest number of cases reported was in Isabella County with 575 for a cumulative total of 9,632. Cases in December account for 5.3 percent of the county’s total confirmed cases.

The highest percentage was in Clare County, where new confirmed cases reported in December account for 7.2 percent of the county’s total cumulative caseload, or 321 of 4,405.

Gratiot County’s 306 confirmed cases reported in December account for 5.3 percent of the county’s cumulative total 5,719 of cases.

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