CDC: Michigan leads country in new COVID cases

Posted at 7:18 PM, Nov 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 19:24:00-05

MICHIGAN — Frontline workers, doctors, and nurses have been sounding the alarms for weeks about the rise in COVID cases. Wednesday, the CDC reported that Michigan leads the country in new COVID cases over the last seven days.

“In the last kind of few weeks, we've seen this severity of illness going up,” said Dr. Andrew Jameson in a previous interview with FOX 17. “We've seen the number of people that are on ventilators going up significantly. And, we've seen just people dying that didn't need to. So, it's much worse right now than it has been in months.”

Specifically the CDC reported that 503 people out of every 100,000 people have gotten COVID over the last week.

Spectrum Health and Mercy Health said in a media briefing and a separate interview that their hospitals are at max capacity and that at St. Mary's specifically three of their floors are filled with COVID patients.

READ MORE: Hospital capacities 'worse now' than doctors have seen in months

Last week, nurses Laura Krzykwa and Karin Barnhard said in an interview for a previous story that Mercy Health Muskegon are seeing "astronomical" wait times.

“It’s so disheartening as a nurse to know that our community has to have these wait times that are just beyond measure for them,” Barnhard said during that interview.

She and Krykwa, who are members of SEIU, said the hospital’s biggest challenge right now is being short staffed. Nurses and other frontline workers are feeling overwhelmed trying to care for all of their patients.

“Every unit is giving and every unit is being asked to take on more and to do more,” Krzykwa said during that interview. “We’ve got units in surgery that because of the bed crisis are now taking patients and learning different skill sets to accommodate the community the best that we can, and doing discharge stuff that they normally wouldn’t have been doing, housing patients in different manner, learning different skills so that we can try to accommodate the community the best that we can.” 

READ MORE: Some call for government actions as COVID-19 cases surge in Michigan

Brian Peters, chief executive officer of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, said he's witnessing what frontline workers, doctors and nurses are going through. He and other organizations — The Healthcare Association of Michigan, The Michigan Association of Ambulance Services, The Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council and The Michigan Community College Association — formed the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance and is seeking $650,000,000 from the state to help keep the industry afloat.

“Right now we have a situation where healthcare providers have been dealing daily with a pandemic that has now unfortunately affected well over a million Michiganders. It has killed over 20,000 Michiganders,” he said during an interview with FOX 17 earlier this month. “It has caused frontline caregivers to deal with burnout now on an increasing basis. The reality is now we see a rise in-patient volume, emergency department volume, hospital-bed-occupancy rates, in requests for ambulance services, for skilled nursing facility admissions, and the like, all because No. 1 we have an ongoing pandemic and No. 2 we have an awful lot of people who delayed seeking treatment for care.”

The Michigan Nurses Association President and registered nurse Jamie Brown released a statement to FOX 17 last Friday, which states:

"We look forward to seeing the specifics because there's no doubt that Michigan's essential workers, including health care workers, deserve compensation for working on the frontlines throughout this pandemic. It's imperative to make sure that any plan includes clear parameters requiring that the money actually go directly to the people doing the work. Many facilities have already received millions in CARES Act money that did not sufficiently go to frontline workers. It is also important to realize that it will take more than just money to fix what ails our broken healthcare system in order to retain frontline workers. That includes mandatory staffing ratios to make sure that nurses and healthcare professionals can always provide the highest quality of care possible and keep patients safe."

Peters said the money will go to current nurses and frontline workers and to training programs at community colleges and universities. However, the details of who specifically will receive the money has yet to be worked out in due time.

Nevertheless, both Barnhard and Krzykwa believe that no matter how dire the circumstances are, nurses and others will continue to give their patients their best.

“These are people and it’s more than just a job or paycheck. This is people’s lives,” Krzykwa said. “Sometimes the little things we were able to do before we can’t necessarily do now because we’re stretched so thin.”

READ MORE: Doctors urge small gatherings, vaccinations for Thanksgiving holiday

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