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COVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan continue to rise

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The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 continues to grow across the state.

The state reported Monday that 4,356 adults and 40 children were in the hospital with a confirmed case of COVID. Those numbers are very close to a record first set in April of 2020, before research showed the effectiveness of masks in slowing the spread of the virus, and before there was a vaccine.

Of those hospitalized with confirmed cases, the state reports 993 are in intensive care units, and 618 are on ventilators.

Hospital leaders say they are doing everything they can to deal with the crush of patients statewide. Last week, two teams of military medical units arrived on opposite sides of the state, one assigned to a Beaumont hospital in Dearborn, the other to a Spectrum Health hospital in Grand Rapids. A third team of 22 doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists is on its way to Saginaw.

“The impact to all those families is unspeakable."
Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan

At Spectrum Health in West Michigan, Dr. Darryl Elmouchi says more than 90% of COVID patients typically survive. But as patient loads increase, the hospital expects deaths to rise. Elmouchi says Spectrum Health already saw more deaths from COVID this November than it did last November, during a previous surge.

“And based on the numbers of the people in our ICU, and what we see in the community, we anticipate that December of 2021 will probably set a sad record for the number of deaths we’ve seen through this entire pandemic,” Elmouchi said in a media briefing Friday.

“The impact to all those families is unspeakable,” Elmouchi said. “And our team members seeing this much death, no one’s prepared for that.”

Elmouchi and other hospital leaders say the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 patients in hospitals are unvaccinated. The state of Michigan reports in recent months that unvaccinated people accounted for more than 70% of COVID-19 deaths. And, those who were vaccinated tended to be older, and have more underlying health conditions, according to state data.

State and hospital leaders continue to urge vaccinations as the best way to prevent serious cases of coronavirus.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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