One of the state’s biggest hospital networks is warning Michiganders that hospitals and staff have hit critical capacity levels. Health care workers are now pleading for Michiganders to personally take immediate steps to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Michigan’s COVID-19 surge is the worst in the country, with even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky calling for the state to shut down more activities to flatten the curve. Governor Whitmer did not add further restrictions this week, but instead has called for the federal government to increase vaccine supplies, a request not yet granted. Whitmer has also asked residents for a voluntary two week pause on high school activities, especially sports, and indoor dining.
Meanwhile, Beaumont says the number of COVID-19 patients at its hospitals has jumped from 128 on Feb. 28 to more than 800 patients today and that exceeds the volume from last fall. Just two weeks ago, the health system was attending to 500 COVID-19 patients.
“Our COVID-19 numbers are climbing higher and faster and it’s very troubling and alarming to see this,” said Beaumont Health CEO John Fox. “We are grateful for the knowledge attained from the first two surges. It has helped save many lives. We also now have effective vaccines. To flatten the curve again, we all need to work together now: Wear masks, wash hands, avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing and get vaccinated. We cannot do this alone. We need everyone’s help immediately.”
The pronouncement comes as other hospitals in the Metro Detroit region are at or nearing capacity, with many COVID-19 units ranging from around 75 percent to 100 percent full, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
This is the third big surge of COVID-19 cases in the state and Beaumont officials are saying the increase is putting a strain on the health system’s medical staff. Health care teams have been battling the virus for more than a year. Michigan has by far the highest rate of new infections of any state in the U.S.
“The new COVID-19 variants are more contagious,” said Dr. Nick Gilpin, Beaumont’s medical director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology. “The patients we are seeing are younger and some are sicker and in need of intense medical attention. Some younger patients also seem to be waiting longer to get care, thinking they can beat the virus. By the time they come to the hospital, we’re seeing intense illness with pneumonia, blood clots and severe lung injury. This trend does not seem to be slowing down.”
As of Wednesday, Beaumont has provided more than 262,000 vaccinations, operating vaccine clinics at Beaumont hospitals in Dearborn and Troy, as well as the Beaumont Service Center in Southfield. The clinics have the capability of administering up to 50,000 doses per week, dependent upon the amount of vaccine received and staff, given the stress of this third surge.
The current surge resulted in various actions, including Beaumont Health reinstituting visitor restrictions but also allowing non-COVID-19 patients one fully vaccinated visitor per day. The guidelines are listed on the Beaumont website. Masks are still required at all Beaumont facilities for everyone, including those who have been fully vaccinated.
Beaumont says its hospitals are safe and remain open to all patients needing health care, including emergency visits, testing and surgery. Patients should continue to go to any Beaumont Emergency Center for medical issues that need urgent attention.