The death rate for the coronavirus is much higher than the death rate for the flu in Southeastern Michigan, particularly in the more urban counties. Data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shows the death rate for the flu per 100,000 people did not reach above 19.6 in Southeastern Michigan, while the death rate for COVID-19 was as high as 217 per 100,000 people. Please note that the data presented in this post is from two different time periods; the flu data is from 2018 (the most recent data available) and the COVID-19 data is from July of 2020.
According to the data, the death rate for COVID-19 was highest in the City of Detroit at 217 deaths per 100,000 people as of July 17, 2020. That rate has gone up since then, but not by much, as the COVID-19 death numbers have been minimally increasing. On Aug. 2, 6,206 total COVID-19 deaths were reported in the State of Michigan, of which 1,574 were out of the City of Detroit. In the COVID-19 map below Wayne County had the second highest death rate at 110 deaths per 100,000 people; on Aug. 2 Wayne County reported 1,228 total COVID-19 deaths. Livingston County had the lowest COVID-19 death rate at 14 per 100,000 people, as shown on the first map, and on Aug. 2 it reported 28 total deaths.
In the second map below we see that the death rates for the flu ranged between 8.4 and 19.6 in Southeastern Michigan. The highest death rate for the flu was in Wayne County and was reported to be 19.6 per 100,000 people. The Wayne County COVID-19 death rate was reported to be 5.5 times higher, and the Wayne County COVID-19 numbers exclude data from Detroit while the flu data is inclusive of Detroit (these differences are due to how the State reports the data sets). In 2018 there were 263 total deaths from the flu in Wayne County. Washtenaw County had the lowest death rate from the flu at 8.4 per 100,000 people, which was equivalent to 33 total deaths. Washtenaw County’s death rate for COVID-19 was reported at 30 per 100,000 people.
The data alone shows that COVID-19 has killed far more people than the flu, both locally and nationally. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been more than 157,000 COVID-19 deaths in the US as of Aug. 2 and for the 2018-19 flu season there were 15,620 deaths. Although the number of COVID-19 deaths has not been increasing at the rate it was in the spring of 2020, the State of Michigan still reported 82,782 total COVID-19 cases on Aug. 2, which was an increase of 426 new cases from the day before. A confirmed case can turn to death, depending on various factors. Discounting the severity of COVID-19 and implying it is similar to the flu is irresponsible and creates a meme that is not a major threat to public health.