LANSING — During a coronavirus briefing on Monday, May 4, state officials said confirmed cases of COVID-19 are continuing to increase in parts of West Michigan, although at a much smaller rate than seen in the southeast region last month.

“The data we've seen in the past couple of weeks is a sign for cautious optimism,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “But I want to reiterate, we're not out of the woods yet.

“We're still seeing a rapid increase in cases on the west side of the state and in rural areas up north. If we re-engage too soon or too quickly, we run the risk of a second wave of COVID-19.”

“There continues to be differences regionally that we are closely monitoring,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive.

“Much of the southeast part of the state saw its largest surge in cases about a month ago, we still are seeing parts on the western side of the state with increasing numbers of cases recording daily.”

A malfunction in the Michigan Disease Surveillance System software delayed COVID-19 data reporting on Monday.

No data was lost, according to the Michigan State Police, which operates the state’s emergency operations system. However, it will take additional time for the state to compile total case, death and recovery figures.

Whitmer and Khaldun said while test capacity is expanding across the state, it’s not at the level needed to truly track the spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday, May 1, the state tested 11,385 people for COVID-19, the most done in a single day in Michigan so far.

Still, Whitmer said 100,000 to 200,000 Michiganders — one percent to two percent of the state’s total population — need to be tested weekly.

“One of the most important things we can do is increase our testing, and that's the only way we're going to be able to really know where this disease is, so that we can appropriately isolate cases and prevent the spread,” Khaldun said.

The total positive test rate in Michigan is 23 percent, Khaldun said, although that figure has decreased as testing capacity has increased.

On Saturday, May 2, the latest date for which testing data is available, 8.8 percent of 10,577 tests came back positive.

Whitmer added that as temperatures continue to rise, individuals should still practice social distancing when outdoors, staying six feet apart and wearing face coverings in public.

She expressed concern over mass gatherings at state parks, like Grand Haven State Park, over the weekend.

“I'm very concerned about it,” she said.

“We've seen across the country, cautious optimism that we've shared when we see cases plateau, some people I think are assuming that means that we are out of the woods.”

Whitmer said further guidance on whether or not to close state parks, which have been open throughout the coronavirus pandemic, would come on Wednesday.

While state case totals were not available, the Allegan County Health Department reported 116 confirmed cases and 21 probable cases on Monday, along with two total deaths. The county has conducted 1,319 COVID-19 tests so far.

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health reported 273 confirmed cases with 48 more probable cases as of Sunday. The county has reported 12 confirmed COVID-19 deaths with four additional probable deaths.

Testing in Ottawa County has been expanding steadily. From April 18-25, 1,362 tests were administered, compared to a total of 1,152 tests in the three weeks before that.

The county has conducted a total of 2,896 tests so far, according to the latest data.

As of Sunday, Michigan had 43,754 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,049 deaths.

COVID-19 cases in Michigan
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— Contact reporter Arpan Lobo at alobo@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @arpanlobo.