'A huge, huge number': Michigan COVID-19 deaths surpass 40,000

Posted at 10:38 PM, Nov 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-29 23:31:52-05

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — A new milestone in Michigan’s fight against COVID-19 was hit this week.

On Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced 8,831 new cases of COVID-19 and 113 additional deaths from the last week. That brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state to 40,085 since the pandemic began.

"It makes me very sad because 40,000 is a huge, huge number,” said Natasha Ristovski, who lost her father to COVID-19 in 2020. "It all happened so very fast and not just to my family, but all the other families because I know how much it hurts losing someone so close to you.”

Wednesday, Nov. 30 marks two years to the day that Ristovski's father Ljupco passed. He had just turned 60.

"Everyday was different for him. He did a bunch of cool stuff, he met a lot of cool people," Ristovski said. "He was a great dad to me, my brother and sister.”

This time last year, urgent cares and hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. The state was reporting thousands of new cases every day, especially at the end of December 2021 and early January 2022. It's a much different scenario this fall leading into winter.

“Definitely in terms of last year, the numbers are way down, at least in the urgent care setting,” said Dr. Ron Kattoo of Express Med Urgent Care in Southfield.

Kattoo says he was expecting this year to be busier than it is, especially around the holidays with cases of the flu and RSV on the rise.

“Last year at this time, the lobby would have 25 people in it. And we have what, four, maybe? It’s a big change,” Kattoo said. “I was expecting at least 70 to 80 percent of what we had last year, and we’re nowhere near that.”

While flu activity has been elevated nationally, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows it’s still minimal in Michigan. Kattoo hopes it stays that way as people begin gathering for the holidays.

“It's not so much all COVID as it was last year. It's a mix of COVID, influenza and the kids with RSV,” Kattoo said. "I think these next 30 days will be a big determinant of how the season goes.”

As for Natasha Ristovski, this week will be about remembering her Dad, one of the 40,000 Michiganders now lost during the pandemic that will never be forgotten.

"We're going to go see him at the cemetery. Me and my family are going to meet and get together for a little celebration of life,” Natasha Ristovski said of the two-year anniversary of her father's passing. "We're all proud to be his kids and I know all my other family members are proud to have him in our family too. He was awesome.”