(WXMI) — A steep rise in COVID-19 cases is causing concern ahead of the holidays, leading to more hospitalizations and putting stress on healthcare workers in Michigan.
Over the past week, Michigan is averaging 7,654 cases per day, the highest seven-day average since the start of the pandemic.
Local and state health officials are urging people to be cautious and get vaccinated, as the state also finds itself leading the nation in transmission rates.
“It is critical that as we gather for holidays, visit with friends go to work and other places in our communities that we all take steps to protect ourselves and avoid another surge in the coming weeks,” says the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel.
The state health department is now issuing an advisory asking everyone over the age of two to wear masks indoors and urging businesses and schools to adopt mask policies as well.
The latest rise in cases mirrors the surge Michigan fall, taxing health care workers and hospital systems. Though the response is different because what we didn’t have last fall were vaccines, the best protection against the virus.
The majority of severe COVID cases continue to be among unvaccinated people.
“All of our inpatients across our 14 hospitals, 86% who have a diagnosis of COVID-19 are unvaccinated in our ICUS 90% are unvaccinated and on ventilators, 97% are unvaccinated. Further those patients who are vaccinated are significantly older and have many more comorbidities,” says Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, President of Spectrum Health West Michigan.
“We are seeing healthy, young people in our hospitals, very sick on ventilators and even dying with COVID-19,” Elmouchi added bout unvaccinated patients
Health officials say vaccines are the key to having a normal holiday season and are urging everyone to get their shots, or their boosters if they are six months out from being fully vaccinated.
West Michigan ER Dr. Rob Davidson tweeting, “Get your booster as soon as you can. The only “breakthrough” cases I’ve seen coming into my ER these last few weeks are folks who had their second dose more than 6 months ago.
“My recommendation to Americans to celebrate safely is to get vaccinated. As soon as you can. Obviously, if you're not vaccinated, you're in a situation where you're more vulnerable to getting infected, but for the people who are vaccinated, the people who can get boosted, enjoy your holiday season with your family, indoors, grandparents, children," said NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci .
Michigan hit another milestone last week, 70% of eligible people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In places where cases are rising more rapidly, there’s a common theme, vaccination numbers are still falling short of that target.