The message should be more urgent in Michigan: If you qualify for a COVID-19 booster shot, get one now, said Dr. Anurag Malani, director of infection prevention for the St. Joseph Mercy Health System.
If you haven’t had a dose at all, get vaccinated. And if you don’t wear a mask in public, covered places, put one on.
The delta variant of the virus isn’t done with Michigan yet, Malani said. Cases and hospitalizations are rising again in the state, despite declining trends in much of the rest of the country.
“We haven’t seen a drop in cases. We haven’t seen a drop in hospitalizations. In fact, our numbers are probably the highest this week in the delta wave,” Malani told the Free Press. “We have approximately 260 hospitalized patients with COVID at our seven hospitals in Trinity Michigan.
“There needs to be … stronger communication about the need for boosters.”
Hospital admissions from COVID-19 rose 20% in Michigan in just one week — from 2,144 on Nov. 1 to 2,580 Monday — putting pressure on hospitals that also treat a large number of patients with other medical conditions.
Traverse City-based Munson Healthcare announced Tuesday that it has now exceeded the capacity of its nine hospitals in northern Michigan for the first time in its 106-year history and is operating on “Pandemic Response Level Red.”
That means doctors’ offices, labs, outpatient clinics and hospitals will remain open, but non-emergency surgeries and other procedures may have to be postponed, especially if they require a night in the hospital, Munson spokesperson Dianne Michalek said. A temporary break has also been introduced for the services for sleep disorders.
“The number of patients we see in our hospitals now is close to the number we experienced during the worst pandemic of last spring,” Christine Nefcy, Munson’s chief of medical staff, said in a statement.
“Now more than ever, we need our communities to work with us by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public, practicing good hand hygiene and avoiding large gatherings whenever possible.”
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The timing couldn’t have been worse. Colder weather is approaching, causing more people to move indoors, where the virus spreads more easily. And the holiday season is approaching – a time when families and friends gather.
That’s another reason, Malani said, for anyone who qualifies for a booster to get it now: It takes two weeks after the injection to get the extra protection from the injection, which means eating Thanksgiving dinner with friends. and extended family a little safer.
For people who are older or have underlying health conditions that put them at serious risk of getting sick, a booster can give them extra protection to avoid needing hospital care if they get a breakthrough infection from the virus.
“The vaccines are really very effective at keeping people out of the hospital,” Malani said. “They are really effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, ICU (intensive care unit) critical illness, death.
“The people who aren’t getting vaccines, they’re really… hurting their communities,” he said. They are at risk of contracting the virus and need hospital care, putting a strain on the already overburdened health care system. And they put their friends and family at risk by potentially spreading the disease.
And in the worst case, they can die.
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“There will be people who are not at the Thanksgiving table, who are not at the Christmas table” because of COVID-19, he said. “That’s what’s going to happen.”
dr. Dennis Cunningham, medical director of infection prevention for the Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System, told the Free Press he was alarmed to see how many people with COVID-19 were admitted to Henry Ford’s five hospitals over the weekend.
“It makes us a little worried,” he said Monday afternoon. “This was a really strong increase over the weekend.”
In recent weeks, Henry Ford typically had about 150 coronavirus patients filling hospital beds. By Monday, the COVID-19 count had risen to 250 patients.
“The rate of new infections per 100,000 people is rising statewide, especially in southeastern Michigan,” Cunningham said. “So I do expect the numbers to deteriorate for a while.”
Michigan’s number of cases is now 342.5 per 100,000 people — more than double the number of cases two months ago, when Michigan saw 152.3 new infections per 100,000, according to the CDC.
The seven-day average of the percentage of positive coronavirus tests — another indicator of the spread of the virus in the community — is now above 14% statewide, according to data from the health department.
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On the west side of the state, the percentage of positive tests is even higher, said Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan.
“Last week it shot up,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of days in the 20s. So this time something else happens that we just can’t quite describe. But it’s absolutely real and we see a lot of breakthrough” infections in our outpatient tests.
Most people who get vaccine breakthrough cases have mild infections, he said, and don’t need hospital care. Of the 281 COVID-19 patients admitted to Spectrum Health’s 14 hospitals, 85% have not been vaccinated.
“For those (hospitalized with COVID-19) who have been vaccinated, they are on average at least ten years older and have a lot more comorbidities. So they’re older, sicker people.”
It’s people who need boosters, Elmouchi said.
Many people don’t realize they qualify for a booster, Elmouchi said. The shots aren’t just for the elderly or those with immune-suppressing conditions, cancer, or heart disease.
“The CDC has now extended it,” he said. “If you have a BMI (body mass index) of 25 or higher, which is only slightly overweight, … you qualify” as long as it has been at least six months since your second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months after a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.
He estimated that at least 70% of the adult population would qualify for a booster in Michigan based on BMI standard and other conditions, such as pregnancy and mood disorders. Smokers are eligible, as are people with substance use disorders.
But as of Monday, only about 915,000 booster doses had been administered in Michigan. Here’s how the booster distribution breaks down:
- 21.9% of the over-75s have received a booster
- 35% of 65-74 year olds have had a booster
- 24.3% of people aged 50-64 have had a booster
- 8.2% of people aged 40-49 have had a booster
- 6.7% of people aged 30-39 have had a booster
- 3.6% of people aged 20-29 have had a booster
“Most people think I’m not immunocompromised. I’m not over 65. I’m not in health care. I’m not worried,” Elmouchi said.
Frontline workers are also eligible for booster shots, even if they don’t have any health conditions that could qualify them. That includes first responders, police officers, firefighters, corrections officers, postmen, health workers, teachers, along with people who work in supermarkets, public transportation, manufacturing and agriculture.
“The message gets very confusing to the average person,” Elmouchi said. “It’s a real shame because ultimately we all know that anyone who is eligible for a vaccine would benefit from getting one.
“And from a booster point of view, I think it’s very unclear to people how important they are in preventing you from getting sick and missing or missing work… the vacation with your family, and potentially keeping you out of the hospital.” .”
Contact Kristen Shamus: [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.
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