Many hospitals in Michigan are trying to deal with an alarming surge of COVID-19 cases as the state smashes an old record of new cases, the highest so far in the pandemic.
The state’s population accounts for about 3% of U.S. citizens at approximately 10,000 people, but now account for 1 in 10 new cases in the U.S.
Michigan’s seven-day case rate was at 589.3 per 100,000, almost double that of nearby Ohio. Saturday’s new case rate stood at 7,654 on Friday. An average of 66 Michiganders died on a daily basis over the past week.
“We’re all scared to death because this is now so hard to predict what will happen,” Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, the president of Spectrum Health West Michigan, said in an interview Saturday. “We’re preparing for the worst.”
On Saturday, Spectrum Health had 371 patients hospitalized with Covid, and as of earlier in the week, 86 percent of those hospitalized for Covid were unvaccinated. He added that the surge was taking a toll on staff morale.
School districts are extending the holiday break to staff and students, some calling it a “wellness break.”
Other districts are upfront, attributing the extended closures to the rise in cases and staffing shortages. Many districts have chosen to close for the entire week of Thanksgiving. Schools need 75% attendance to count as an official day.
State health leaders chose to recommend mask advisories instead of a mask mandate.
“Today, we are at another crucial point,” Elizabeth Hertel, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said Friday in announcing the public health advisory that recommends — but does not mandate — mask wearing. “We have a chance to turn the tide and these rising numbers around. … Whether or not we do will depend on everyone in Michigan.”
The advisory urges Michiganders of ages 2 and above to wear masks indoors and with others who do not live in the same household, and recommends businesses and schools implement mask requirements.
Hertel said, “we’ve all been armed with the information that we think we need to have in order to keep people safe.
“So at this point, we feel that it is most prudent to make sure that people are aware of how serious this COVID surge is right now, and give them the ability and information to take steps to protect themselves and others through a public health advisory.”
As of Saturday, 54% of Michiganders were fully vaccinated.