By Bria Brown

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan had the country’s fifth-highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the last week and is among 14 states where infections rose over the past two weeks, a trend that state health officials said is potentially tied to the increasing prevalence of a more contagious coronavirus variant.

One in every 602 people was diagnosed in the past week, a rate that was higher than in 45 states. Michigan had the country’s 10th-highest per-capita case rate over the last 14 days. The seven-day case average is 2,372, up from 1,335 on March 1.

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Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said Michigan is in a “different place” than earlier in the pandemic because of vaccinations but warned herd immunity is in the distance. More than 25% of the age 16-plus population had received at least one dose as of Tuesday.

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“We are hopeful that as we get more and more vaccines into the state and more and more people vaccinated, we will not see a the type of surge we saw in 2020. But I still think we are at risk,” Khaldun said Wednesday, noting that new variants are more easily spread and the vaccine — while still effective — may not be as effective against them.

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