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Thumb area’s medical director concerned about severity of COVID-19 illnesses

With a recent spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Michigan’s Thumb region, its medical director is concerned about the severity of some of the COVID-19 illnesses that are being reported.
Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 3:35 PM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN, Mich. (WJRT) - With a recent spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Michigan’s Thumb region, its medical director is concerned about the severity of some of the COVID-19 illnesses that are being reported.

“It’s a very urgent scenario, it’s a very urgent case for now so we need all hands on deck for this,” said Dr. Mark Hamed, medical director of Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties and the District Health Department Number 2.

Hamed is also an emergency room physician at McKenzie Hospital in Sandusky and he said that a younger crowd is now being hospitalized with COVID-19 and that these patients are developing atypical symptoms.

“Initially when we had a pandemic early last year, February, March, April last year, we were seeing a lot of older folks get real sick,” he said. “Now we were seeing a lot of the younger folks, so the young adults in the 30-60s coming in really sick with COVID.”

Hamed said some of the patients in the hospitals are experiencing a wide array of conditions.

“We’re seeing people come in with intractable nausea, vomiting that won’t stop for days because of dehydration,” he said. “We’re seeing people come in with strokes related to COVID and heart attacks too.”

Hamed said these heart attacks and strokes are happening to people with no underlying health risks.

“People are gonna question whether or not, oh it’s just a heart attack and somebody has COVID,” Hamed said. “No, the only health risk factor they had was COVID so these are generally healthy people who normally wouldn’t be at risk for heart attacks or strokes and are coming in with strokes and heart attacks and the only thing we’re seeing that they have in their history is a recent diagnosis of COVID. So I don’t think it’s a coincidence, I really don’t.”

It is unclear why these heart attacks and strokes are happening but Hamed said he believes COVID-19 variants may be playing a role.

Hamed said that Michigan has the second highest amount of the B117 variant in the country and that this could be leading to what he’s seeing the Thumb.

“I do think the variants have a huge role in this as to the contagious level we’re seeing as well as the severity of illnesses that we’re seeing too,” he said.

Michigan’s Thumb region continues to be one of the nation’s hottest spots for new COVID-19 infections. Hamed said a lot of people in the area are suffering from COVID fatigue and he said that it is going to take everyone to step up and do what they can to help slow the spread of the virus.

“The Thumb’s a very resilient community, we’ll get over this,” he said. “We’ll get over this virus. It’ll just take everybody to really just get out of their comfort zones, work together, re-energize ourselves. We know what works to prevent this.”

Hamed urges everyone to wear a mask, follow social distancing, and to get vaccinated against the virus.

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