Health officials in the state and beyond are talking about the sobering reality of where we are right now and what expectations are for the weeks and months ahead.
“COVID is spreading across Michigan. Cases are up dramatically. Deaths are also increasing substantially. Every part of the state is being hit at this point. No race or ethnicity is immune,” says Robert Gordon, Director of MDHHS.
Gordon provided a clear picture of where the state stands in the fight with COVID-19.
“We cannot tire because the virus will not either and the tragic reality is if we do not bring it under control, we are likely to see thousands of more deaths from COVID here in the coming months,” he says.
One positive did come out of the health expert roundtable.
“The good news is we know far more about COVID than we did in the spring, where we used a hammer then we can use a scalpel now,” Gordon said.
University of Michigan epidemiologist Dr. Emily Martin says this increase is something new.
“The magnitude, the speed of this increase is unlike any we’ve seen since the spring,” she says.
Martin explains, there is indeed more testing happening now.
“However, the increase in testing alone does not explain this rise. This rise supersedes and sort of adjustment that you would expect based on testing patterns, so we are convinced there is a rapid change in the spread across Michigan,” she says. “This is increase has been specifically seen in the zero to 29-year-old age group.”
Martin calls the shift a double-edged sword: fewer hospitalizations and deaths in the younger age group, but also more asymptomatic infections with a group more willing to travel, gather, and spread the virus.
Former CDC Director Thomas Frieden warns that the multi-layer approach may fail without a change in national and local behaviors.
“The challenge that we all face is to be blunt, with the failure of federal leadership, its really hard to get it right in any community or state,” he says. “It’s really important to be clear, this is not going away anytime soon. The end of the pandemic is nowhere near. It is the most disruptive infectious disease threat the world has faced in a century and the risk of explosive spread isn’t going to end when we get a vaccine.”
Dr. Frieden added that bars are particularly troublesome. The more people, the higher chances that someone is infected.
Then you add people are coming from different areas, with lower inhibitions once there and louder talking all increasing chances of spread.