Michigan health officials warn of rising coronavirus hospitalization rates

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 7:20 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - New COVID-19 hospitalizations are reaching an alarming rate, according to Michigan health officials.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has increased for the past two weeks in all regions of the state. On a brief call Tuesday afternoon, Michigan’s chief medical executive and other health leaders provided an update and a warning.

The latest figures from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services show hospitals around the state are treating 760 patients with confirmed coronavirus cases and 239 more with probable cases for a total of 999.

“State and local public health officials have been concerned about the risk of a surge in cases in the fall, and this recent increase should remind us all to refocus on preventing the spread of COVID-19,” said Nick Derusha, president of the Michigan Association for Local Public Health.

The Jackson, Kalamazoo and Upper Peninsula regions have the highest number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

Of the nearly 1,000 people in Michigan hospitalized with confirmed or probable COVID-19 illnesses, 250 are in intensive care. Brian Peters, chief executive officer of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, said facilities all have surge plans in case they get overwhelmed and they learned from the earlier coronavirus wave in March and April.

“At the height of the COVID-19 response in Michigan, our frontline hospital workers were working around the clock to treat COVID-19 patients," he said. “As we see cases on the rise again and more hospital beds with patients than we have in weeks, we must remember what mask wearing and social distancing does: it prevents cases, it prevents hospitalizations, and it prevents deaths.”

The increase in hospitalizations comes as coronavirus cases increase significantly around Michigan. State health officials reported 1,237 more confirmed coronavirus on Tuesday, which marks the eighth straight day with more than 900 cases and the fifth day out of the past seven with more than 1,000 cases.

Deaths attributed to coronavirus also climbed by 30 on Tuesday, which is the highest daily increase since July 7.

Michigan set a record for the most coronavirus diagnostic testing three days in a row last week, but the percentage of positive tests also climbed above 4%. The positive rate has remained above 4% for four consecutive days.

The Upper Peninsula has been especially hard hit recently and currently is listed at the highest risk of coronavirus spread on the MI Safe Start map. The region is seeing more than 200 newly confirmed coronavirus cases per million people every day.

Derusha said the Upper Peninsula hasn’t seen this level of coronavirus spread before now. The cause? Not tourism. Officials say increased social gatherings, schools, long-term care facilities and crowded restaurants are mostly to blame.

Health officials again called on residents to wear a face covering when they are in public, follow gathering limits, wash hands frequently, practice social distancing and stay home if they feel sick.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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