Michigan catapulted into the worst COVID-19 hotspot in the nation on Tuesday as the seven-day number of cases rose to 503.8 per 100,000 population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hospitals across the state say they are feeling the pressure as the number of COVID-19 patients has risen nearly 50% in the past month — from 2,097 patients admitted on Oct. 18 with confirmed cases of the virus to 3,082 on Monday, according to state data .
“The current growth in hospitalizations from COVID-19 is very worrying,” said John Karasinski, a spokesperson for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, which represents all 133 community hospitals in the state.
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“They are seeing a sharp increase in hospital admissions in recent days. … We have both this sharp increase in COVID-19 patients, but we also have hospitals that have faced staffing challenges and staff shortages, as well as large numbers of non-COVID And we’ve been seeing that pent-up demand for non-COVID admissions since last summer.”
That may mean long wait times at emergency rooms, hospitals that have to postpone non-emergency medical procedures and some that can’t accept new patient transfers, he said.
“All of our hospitals are available for all emergencies,” Karasinski said, “but we want to raise the public’s expectations that there are long wait times and if they have a problem that isn’t an emergency to contact their primary care physician or go to an urgent care clinic to try to help with those long wait times and the balanced load that our hospitals are now seeing.”
Henry Ford Health System had admitted 330 people to its five hospitals on Tuesday with confirmed cases of COVID-19. That’s a nearly 60% increase in the COVID-19 patient count in just the past three weeks, said Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford’s Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer.
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“We hoped we would be in a better situation this Thanksgiving than last year, especially with the availability of the vaccines,” Munkarah said.
“We have watched with… trepidation and concern, the number of COVID cases is rising and rising in our community and around the state. … The vast majority of patients are still unvaccinated patients. So if we look at overall admissions for COVID, 70 to 75% of those patients are not vaccinated.”
Bob Riney, Henry Ford’s COO and president of healthcare operations, said the latest COVID wave has forced the Detroit hospital system to postpone some medical procedures.
“There have been a few days where we have had to shorten some procedures in some of our hospitals as the overall volume, and especially the growth of COVID, has put us at capacity,” Riney said.
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“We’re evaluating that day by day and doing everything we can to make sure it becomes the exception, and certainly not the norm.”
Riney and other hospital leaders have urged as many people as possible to get COVID-19 vaccines. And for anyone who qualifies for booster shots, they say now is the time to get them.
“It would be easy to draw a wrong conclusion that … the vaccines don’t work, and that would be a really wrong conclusion,” Riney said.
Among fully vaccinated patients hospitalized with COVID-19, the average age is 10 years older than those who are not vaccinated and hospitalized.
“The majority have some other underlying complex clinical conditions that have made them compromised. So the facts still support that the unvaccinated population is affected dramatically differently than the vaccinated population when it comes to the activity we see today.”
With only 54.1% of the state’s population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Riney said Michigan is vulnerable.
“That means a large part of our population is not vaccinated,” he said. “And like I just said, the statistics are overwhelming. It’s that population that fills our state’s hospitals. And then that’s what allows the virus to live, mutate and persist.”
On the west side of the state, Spectrum Health reported seeing the highest number of positive coronavirus tests at any point in the pandemic.
On Monday, we were at 22.6% positivity on over 1000 tests. Over the weekend we had 25% positivity and our seven day moving average positivity which is 22.6% in our lab is the highest we have seen since the start of the pandemic
dr. Nick Gilpin, Beaumont Health’s director of infection prevention and epidemiology, made a similar appeal last week. He said on Thursday the number of admissions to hospitals in Southfield is approaching 400.
“We’re seeing the population increase. And I think with more cold weather on the way, with people starting to make plans for the holidays to get together, I think it’s an important time to let everyone know that we should stay vigilant,” said Gilpin.
“We have to make sure we wear those masks. We have to make sure we take those precautions. We have to get vaccinated. Those are the things that fundamentally make the situation.”
Ten Michigan hospitals reported on Monday that they were at 100% capacity:
- Detroit Receiving Hospital and University Health Center
- Hurley Medical Center
- McLaren Flint
- MidMichigan Medical Center – Gratiot
- Munising Memorial Hospital
- Regional Hospital ProMedica Coldwater
- Mus Eaton
- Spectrum Health Kelsey Hospital
- St Joseph Mercy Chelsea
- St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital
Twenty more reported having 90% or greater capacity:
- Ascension Providence Hospital Novi
- Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital
- Beaumont Hospital – Troy
- Beaumont Hospital – Wayne
- Beaumont Hospital – Trenton
- Healthcare Agreement
- Henry Ford Macomb Hospital
- McLaren – Macomb
- McLaren Greater Lansing
- McLaren Northern Michigan – Petoskey
- McLaren Port Huron Hospital
- Metro Health Hospital
- ProMedica CV Hickman Hospital
- Sparrow Hospital – Lansing
- Spectrum Health – Big Rapids Hospital
- Spectrum Health – Blodgett Hospital
- Spectrum Health – Butterworth Hospital
- Spectrum Health – Pennock Hospital
- St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
- University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Center
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,209,712 confirmed cases of the virus and 22,862 COVID-19 deaths in Michigan, according to the state health department.
Ccontact Kristen Shamus: [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.
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