Michigan is flattening the curve, and COVID-19 cases are on the decline. But as new numbers give us hope, it’s worth taking a look back at what the heck just happened. All the stats paint a pretty clear picture: April. was. grim.
One way epidemiologists look at the impact of epidemics is through the concept of “excess mortality” â€” defined by the World Health Organization as “mortality above what would be expected based on the non-crisis mortality rate in the population of interest.” How many extra deaths did COVID-19 cause in April in Michigan? Aaron Velthoven, of Michigan.com, dug into it recently. He posted this graph on Facebook drawing on publicly available health data — Detour created the similar graphic above, interactive here) showing that the coronavirus was the leading single cause of death in Michigan in April â€” ahead of heart disease and cancer â€” with 2,386 deaths.
To make sure we had our numbers straight, we called on Theresa A. Hastert, an epidemiologist at Wayne State University School of Medicine, to take a closer look at the data.
“About an extra 2,400 Michiganders died in April than would have in a typical April, because of COVID,” Hastert told Detour.
She also noted that pneumonia deaths and deaths in the â€œotherâ€ category were higher than normal in April, suggesting that some of those deaths might have also been COVID-related. “This data illustrates what’s going on pretty well.”
You can view excess deaths for all states here.