COVID-19 hospitalizations reach record high in Michigan

Michigan’s number of hospitalized adults with confirmed COVID-19 cases reached a new pandemic high Monday, nearing 4,200 as the state continued to confront surging infections.

The total of 4,185 cases surpassed the previous record of 4,158, which was set seven months ago when fewer residents were vaccinated. More than one-fifth of COVID patients in Michigan hospitals were in intensive care.

Only Minnesota had a higher seven-day case rate than Michigan as of Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. About 20% of tests statewide were positive, a level not seen since the early days of the pandemic when there was a testing shortage. One in every 169 people tested positive in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University.

State officials continued to urge people to get vaccinated and to wear masks in indoor public settings to limit the spread of the coronavirus amid a fourth surge. The federal government has deployed 44 military medical staffers to help hospitals in Grand Rapids and Dearborn.

“Our COVID numbers are too high. They’ve always been too high, even when they were small,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told reporters in Taylor, where she joined a discussion about the global shortage of computer chips and the effect on the auto industry. “Any COVID is too high, especially when we have access to vaccines and we know masking works. So let’s give our hospital workforce support by everyone doing their part in getting vaccinated. That’s the most important thing we can do.”

From mid-January through mid-November, 87% of cases, hospitalizations and deaths were among people who were not fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.

Whitmer, a Democrat who lifted indoor capacity limit and mask requirements in June after the third surge waned and vaccines became widely available, has resisted reinstating restrictions.

“We are learning to live with this virus. That’s nothing any of us wants to do. And yet we have to because there are a lot of people who are still unvaccinated,” she said.

Nearly 58% of residents ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated, below the U.S. rate of nearly 63%. Roughly 27% of fully vaccinated adults have gotten a booster, which is available six months after their last dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and two months after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC on Monday broadened its recommendation for booster shots to include all adults because of the new omicron variant.  (AP)

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