Michigan hospital

A Beaumont Hospital emergency room sign in Trenton, Michigan

(The Center Square) – Michigan is facing another wave of COVID-19, which is pushing hospitalizations to a near-record.

Over Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, the average number of new confirmed cases was about 5,669 per day. On Friday, the state advised a mask mandate for all people regardless of vaccination status.

Despite more than 70% of Michigan being fully vaccinated, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is approaching a record. As of Sunday, Nov. 21, 3,785 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, including 784 in intensive care units (ICUs). The majority of patients in the ICU and on ventilators are unvaccinated. Michigan’s Community Chief Medical Officers have reported seeing high numbers of patients with other medical conditions. Combined with a record of COVID-19 patients, hospital systems are straining from the number of patients. 

“We cannot wait any longer for Michigan to correct course; we need your help now to end this surge and ensure our hospitals can care for everyone who needs it,” the CMOs said in a statement.

The CMOs asked all Michigan residents to recognize the following:

  • Hospitals are operating at contingency levels of care, which means waiting times are longer and staffing shortages are now the norm and not an exception.
  • This situation results from an ongoing pandemic response, the serious illness of non-COVID-19 patients, the increased length of stay of all patients, and the resulting high number of patients in Michigan hospitals.
  • Just as hospitals and the staff working inside are and have been working at capacity, emergency medical services (EMS) are also stressed and overworked. There may be times when capacity in the system is not adequate to accommodate the usual response and speed of transport, especially for out-of-area transfers.
  • If the pressure on hospitals and EMS increases further, there is a risk of increased delays and challenges in accessing care for everyone who needs emergency services and inpatient hospital care.

The timing of the COVID-19 wave isn’t great, as Wednesday marks Blackout Wednesday, one of the biggest bar nights of the year, directly followed by Thanksgiving.

More than 20 months into the pandemic, COVID-19 is still disrupting daily lives, whether that’s schools setting remote learning days, the Saginaw Walmart closing for three days because of a high caseload, or stores closing because of a labor shortage. Downtown Lansing is still hurting as more than 20,000 state employees are still working from home and will for the foreseeable future.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is taking a different strategy from 2020 when she enacted the most strict and longest-in-the Midwest COVID-19 lockdowns. Instead, she’s encouraged people to get vaccinated.

"If you're congregating with a bunch of people indoors, it's wise to make sure everyone is vaccinated," Whitmer said at a Monday press conference, the Detroit News reported. "And if they're not, encourage them to do that.

"Take this opportunity to tell your loved ones how much you love them and how much you want to spend Christmas with them. It's time to get vaccinated."

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.