Unvaccinated people cause ‘worst Covid wave’ ever in Michigan
Michigan is experiencing the pandemic’s highest number of COVID-19 cases to date, and the rise is largely driven by unvaccinated people.
The state has the highest number of cases in the country with nearly 500 new cases for every 100,000 people in the past week, and about one in five patients at Michigan hospitals are sick with Covid.
About 71 percent of Michigan cases, 72 percent of hospitalizations and 76 percent of deaths occurred in residents who were not fully vaccinated between Oct. 21 and Nov. 19, according to state data.
Healthcare systems in the state are struggling to care for Covid patients – in addition to those with flu and other conditions – amid staff shortages.
Experts call the situation “dire” and encourage Michigan residents to get vaccinated.
Experts are calling the situation in Michigan “barely” as the state sees the highest number of Covid cases since the start of the pandemic. Pictured: A Covid patient being interviewed at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, April 2021
While the number of cases has increased among fully vaccinated Michigan residents (black line), as vaccinated people make up a larger proportion of the population, unvaccinated people (blue line) remain at much higher risk of infection, serious illness, and death
Covid cases in Michigan have skyrocketed in the past month.
The state currently has the highest number of cases in the country, with nearly 500 new cases for every 100,000 people in the week ending December 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This number of cases is higher than the number of cases in Michigan at any other point in the pandemic, including last winter’s wave.
“The situation here in Michigan is as dire as it has been since the start of this pandemic,” said Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. ABC news.
All major Covid stats are on the rise, according to state latest weekly data and model report, released Tuesday.
Last week, Michigan reported the highest number of COVID-19 infections on record in seven days, and this week, the state reported its second-highest number.
This slight drop is likely caused by reports of hiccups over the Thanksgiving weekend, and experts expect the number of cases to rise further as the delayed reports roll in.
The number of cases “has skyrocketed” in the past month, Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of the Spectrum Health West Michigan hospital system, told ABC News.
Michigan saw highs even before November — with test positivity rates above 10 percent — meaning the existing rise rose from a high baseline, Elmouchi said.
“This has far surpassed anything we’ve seen before — both in how long it’s been going on, and now its seemingly never-ending peak,” he said.
“We just don’t know when it will end, and we’re very afraid it will have a very long tail.”
Michigan’s test positivity rate is at 18.9 percent as of Tuesday — meaning nearly one in five Covid tests yield positive results.
The CDC considers a test positivity rate greater than five percent to be a signifier of affected transmission levels, and a rate greater than 10 percent signifies high transmission.
Covid hospitalizations are also on the rise in Michigan, with 20 percent of inpatient beds in the state now occupied by Covid patients — up from 17 percent the week before.
The number of cases in Michigan at the end of November 2021 (blue line) is higher than at the end of November 2020 (black line) and is rising sharply, according to state data
Michigan cases, test positivity, and hospitalizations are all higher at the end of November 2021 than at the end of November 2020.
“I never thought we would have another wave and it would be the worst surge yet,” Sandra Gilman, a nurse and hospital supervisor for Spectrum Health, told ABC News.
According to state data, unvaccinated Michigan residents are driving this current wave.
About 54 percent of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated, while about 61 percent have received at least one dose.
This is lower than the national rate: 59 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 70 percent have received at least one dose by December 1. According to the CDC.
Between October 21 and November 19, 71 percent of Michigan cases occurred in residents who were not or partially vaccinated.
A similar proportion of hospital admissions – 72 percent – occurred among unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals.
And more than three in four deaths — 76 percent — occurred among those who were not fully vaccinated.
Fewer than one in four Covid deaths in Michigan in the past month have occurred in fully vaccinated people
In September, less than one in 100,000 fully vaccinated Michigan residents died from Covid, while about six in 100,000 unvaccinated residents died from the disease
In September 2021, unvaccinated people in Michigan had 4.4 times the risk of testing positive for Covid and 9.3 times the risk of dying from the disease, compared to vaccinated people.
For every 100,000 fully vaccinated Michigan residents, there were fewer than one Covid deaths.
Unvaccinated patients at Spectrum Health West Michigan are usually several years younger and have fewer pre-existing health problems than vaccinated patients, Elmouchi told ABC News.
“That tells us how important it is to get vaccinated,” he said. “And that’s what’s so heartbreaking for our teams is seeing all these people who are so sick, on a ventilator and even dying, and they know it’s preventable. It’s heartbreaking.’
Michigan has the highest number of hospital beds in use of any state in the country, according to Tuesday’s Covid report.
Current hospital admissions have passed winter 2020 and spring 2021 peaks and are approaching spring 2020 peaks in Michigan — of approximately 4,400 patients.
Hospital admissions among younger adults have increased in Michigan in recent months
At the same time, Michigan is seeing an increase in flu and other non-Covid patients, while health systems are not staffed enough to handle the crisis, Peters told ABC News.
The state has about 875 fewer staffed beds than in November 2020, Peters said.
Some hospitals send patients to other facilities and postpone non-essential procedures.
“That’s incredibly worrying because there’s no quick or easy solution to that problem,” he said.
The Defense Department has deployed nearly 50 medical personnel to hospitals across the state, but more help is needed.
Michigan health officials are encouraging residents to get vaccinated, including booster shots, out of concern about this surge and the Omicron variant — which was identified in the US on Wednesday.
“I fear there are so many Michiganders out there, and I’m sure it’s true outside of Michigan too, but who believe the pandemic is largely over,” Peters said. “And nothing could be further from the truth.”