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Michigan chief medical executive: Fourth surge of COVID-19 unlike any other

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MI Chief Medical Executive: 4th surge of COVID-19 unlike any other surge

LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt in Michigan

State officials have provided an update Tuesday on where things stand with hospitalizations, cases, vaccines and boosters. It comes as the state continues a very much uphill battle in fighting this fourth surge of the virus.

There's no doubt this virus is wreaking havoc.

One year ago, after the 2020 holiday season, Michigan was on a downward trajectory for cases. Right now, that trend is on a sharply upward trajectory.

State health officials on Tuesday are calling on residents across Michigan to mask up, social distance and get vaccinated and boosted.

More than 44,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported between Saturday and yesterday.

"People in their 20s and 30s are experiencing the highest case rates of any group. And while breakthrough cases are to be expected with Delta and given the much greater transmissibility of Omicron, people who are unvaccinated are still fueling the surge in cases," said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel. 

Many of those cases ending up in hospitals, where severe labor shortages have essentially become the norm. Health care workers are exhausted and in some areas of the state are quitting in droves.

Five federal medical assistance teams have been called in to help weather the surge of cases at several hospitals across the state.

"We're deploying an additional 200 ventilators that we received from the national strategic stockpile and we're working with local health departments and other partners to continue to hold vaccination clinics for the community," said Hertel. 

She said that more than 5.7 million Michiganders are fully vaccinated and more than 2.5 million boosters have been administered, but she believes there still is more work to do.

"We ask everyone to continue to keep their guard up and take action. We cannot do this with state and local health department action alone," Hertel said. "So please be extra vigilant and layer protection. Get vaccinated and get your booster when you and your children are eligible." 

MI Chief Medical Executive: 4th surge of COVID-19 unlike any other surge

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, who is Michigan's chief medical executive, said this latest surge is unlike any other during the pandemic. Omicron is certainly to blame, along with a variety of other factors.

So why is this fourth coronavirus surge unlike any other surge we've been through since March 2020?

Here's a perfect example:

During a news conference Tuesday with state health officials and the media, Bagdasarian showed a line graph comparing the 2020 holiday season surge with last year's surge.

"Cases went down after that 2020 holiday surge and at this time last year, we were in a really good position. Our cases during this surge when you look at the red line are again, the highest that we've seen during the pandemic," she said. 

What is not helping this already dire situation that we're in?

Weekly case rates are at all time highs, hospitals are short on beds and staffing, more than 100 children are hospitalized with life-threatening symptoms, and the state is still likely weeks away from hitting peak cases when it comes to the omicron variant.

Bagdasarian said case counts are highest for those between the ages of 20 and 29, which models state data that shows the younger population is less likely to get vaccinated.

Projected data from the COVID Modeling Scenario hub indicates the Omicron surge will hit hard and fast in terms of cases, peaking at 200,000 cases per week by the end of the month. Hospitalizations are projected to be around 8,000 and deaths are likely to follow the trajectory they've been on.

"What we are concerned about and what seems to be perhaps the most predictive are those most pessimistic models," said Bagdasarian. 

State health officials are urging folks who are not vaccinated or boosted to get their shots and not make our situation any worse than it already is.

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