Michigan’s COVID push trends in a “direction of deep concern” | Michigan News

By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press

LANSING, Michigan (AP) – The COVID-19 wave in Michigan is moving in a “deeply concerning direction” ahead of the winter break and, unlike a year ago, does not abate after Thanksgiving, said State health officials Friday while urging vaccines and booster shots.

Infection rates and hospitalizations are near or at record levels in the state 21 months after the start of the pandemic. Immunization rates are lower than the national average, especially among children and people in their 20s and 30s. Three out of four patients hospitalized for the coronavirus are not vaccinated.

“Michigan continues to move in a direction of deep concern as the Christmas and New Years holidays approach,” said state health director Elizabeth Hertel. She warned that the omicron variant – the first case of which was announced in Kent County on Thursday – may be more transmissible than the delta variant which hits the state.

The state is deploying ventilators to hospitals and requesting 200 more from the national stockpile.

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“For people who have not yet been vaccinated, I want to be absolutely clear: you are at risk of serious illness, hospitalization and even death,” Hertel said. “If you have not yet received the vaccine or are not yet fully vaccinated, it is not about whether you will get sick but when – especially with a more transmissible variant that spreads through the state. “

The state is coordinating with U.S. officials to identify federal personnel to help treat those infected with antibody-based drugs.

More than 4,700 patients have been hospitalized with the virus, including 4,500 adults with confirmed cases – a new record. More than 21% of beds had COVID-19 patients, a figure that has never exceeded 20% in previous waves, said Dr Natasha Bagdasarian, state medical director.

“Where we are today is really keeping our heads above water,” said Dr. Paolo Marciano, chief medical officer at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn, one of three hospitals in Michigan. where US Army medics and nurses help. He called the deployment a “huge lifeline,” which state officials do not expect the US government to expand further into Michigan due to limited federal resources.

“The number of healthcare workers is limited,” Hertel said. “It will take the efforts and actions of our citizens and communities to help slow the increased number of patients in hospitals in order to truly ease the burden. “

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has resisted reinstating capacity restrictions and mask requirements that had been in place for more than a year. New York reinstated a face coverage mandate on Friday unless companies and sites implement a vaccine requirement.

Michigan’s COVID-19 death rate is higher than in the third wave last spring, when fewer residents were vaccinated, but lower than in the first and second waves of 2020. The additional 235 deaths reported on Friday brought the total number of confirmed and probable deaths to nearly 27,000.

About 55.5% of the population is fully vaccinated, below the national rate of 60.5%. Vaccines and boosters, Bagdasarian said, are the best way to prepare for the omicron variant and flatten the curve. Many critical questions about omicron remain unanswered, including whether the virus causes milder or more severe illness and to what extent it could elude immunity from past illness or vaccines.

“We are truly at a critical point in this pandemic,” she said, also urging indoor masking in public and testing. “It is really time for everyone to do their part.

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