Surge in COVID-19 cases puts pressure on Michigan hospitals

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Michigan hospital leaders warn urgent action is needed to reduce novel coronavirus spread in the community.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 jumped 100% over the past two weeks, according to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

Wright Lassiter, CEO of Henry Ford Health Systems, said it's taking a toll on the healthcare workforce.

"We've been in a battle for the last eight months," Lassiter observed. "And when you're in a battle for that long, you lose a bit of energy, steam, and resiliency."

Tina Freese-Decker, CEO of Spectrum Health, said COVID positivity rates have risen from 3% to 15%.

"It's a much different situation than we had a couple of months ago," Freese-Decker agreed. "This is throughout the state, and we're not seeing the demographic disparity that we did see in the spring. It is infecting all populations."

John Fox, president and CEO of Beaumont Health, said their in-patient volume tripled in the past 30 days, which he noted is a lagging indicator.

He urged Michiganders to practice the basic infection control tools: social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and wearing a mask.

"It's a difficult situation people do not appreciate," Fox warned. "We see it out in the community, we see it in our own lobbies. People come in, we ask them to wear masks, and we get resistance."

Ed Ness, president and CEO of Munson Health Care, is worried outbreaks in the Upper Peninsula could put pressure on downstate hospital systems.

He added rural communities are now experiencing spikes in cases that were only happening in Detroit and other urban areas in the spring.

"I think some of our rural communities felt that they're isolated, that they're protected," Ness remarked. "And our recent data has shown that it doesn't matter where you live we are facing the same situation. So, even in our rural communities, you have to be diligent."

More than 3,000 COVID-19 patients are now being treated in Michigan hospitals, a number that could climb to nearly 5,000 within the next few weeks.

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