COVID-19 hospitalizations reach record high in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s number of hospitalized adults with confirmed COVID-19 cases reached a new pandemic high Monday, nearing 4,200 as the state continued to confront surging infections.

The total of 4,185 cases surpassed the previous record of 4,158, which was set seven months ago when fewer residents were vaccinated. More than one-fifth of COVID patients in Michigan hospitals were in intensive care.

Only Minnesota had a higher seven-day rate of new infections than Michigan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. About 20% of tests statewide were positive, a level not seen since the early days of the pandemic when there was a testing shortage. One in every 169 people tested positive in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University.

State officials continued to urge people to get vaccinated and to wear masks in indoor public settings to limit the spread of the coronavirus amid a fourth surge. The federal government has deployed 44 military medical staffers to help hospitals in Grand Rapids and Dearborn.

“Our COVID numbers are too high. They’ve always been too high, even when they were small,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told reporters in Taylor, where she joined a discussion about the global shortage of computer chips and the effect on the auto industry. “Any COVID is too high, especially when we have access to vaccines and we know masking works. So let’s give our hospital workforce support by everyone doing their part in getting vaccinated. That’s the most important thing we can do.”

From mid-January through mid-November, 87% of cases, hospitalizations and deaths were among people who were not fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.

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Whitmer, a Democrat who lifted indoor capacity limit and mask requirements in June after the third surge waned and vaccines became widely available, has resisted reinstating restrictions.

“We are learning to live with this virus. That’s nothing any of us wants to do. And yet we have to because there are a lot of people that are still unvaccinated,” she said.

Nearly 58% of residents ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated, below the U.S. rate of nearly 63%. Roughly 27% of fully vaccinated adults have gotten a booster, which is available six months after their last dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and two months after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC on Monday broadened its recommendation for booster shots to include all adults because of the new omicron variant.

The World Health Organization warned that the global risk from the variant is “very high” based on the early evidence. The state Department of Health and Human Services said late Monday it reanalyzed genetic sequencing data from 31,000 positive COVID-19 samples and found no cases of the variant that was first identified days ago by researchers in South Africa.

“It’s still early, and there is much that we need to learn about the omicron variant,” said Dr. Alexis Travis, the state’s senior deputy director of public health administration. “We know what protection measures are needed to reduce the spread of COVID and prevent additional mutations of the virus. We need Michiganders to continue to do their part to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

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AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Taylor contributed to this report.


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