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Feds to send staff to Michigan hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients as pandemic rages

Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press on

Published in News & Features

"This pandemic is not over by any means. We ask everyone to please get vaccinated. And, if you’re eligible, get a booster shot."

Hospital leaders pleaded for this assistance earlier in the week.

"Across the state, resilient and dedicated healthcare workers in hospitals stand ready to care for emergency medical needs, but the reality is most hospitals throughout the state have more patients in their emergency departments than they do available rooms and staff to care for them," read part of a statement issued by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

"This results in long wait times, patients being placed in hallways or conference rooms, and diverting patients away from a hospital because there is no physical room or medical staff available to accept more patients."

Whitmer and her administration have repeatedly called on Michiganders to get vaccinated, wear masks and follow other mitigation measures. But they have eschewed mandates for months, despite previously arguing for their efficacy.

Now, Whitmer and Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel say most Michiganders have the ability to get a vaccine and a vaccine booster, when eligible, and to wear masks. It falls on them to do so.

“Hospitals are at capacity across the state, particularly in Metro Detroit and West Michigan, and this is taking a tremendous toll on our health care workers,” Hertel said in a statement.


“We are working hard to give them support, but they also need every Michigander to do their part by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status, social distancing and staying home and getting tested if they have symptoms.”

Boosters are crucial for people who are more than six months out from their last vaccine dose, according to state and federal health experts. The necessity for boosters is demonstrated in the relatively small but increasing number of breakthrough cases in Michigan. State data shows between Oct. 14 and Nov. 12, 28% of cases, 29% of hospitalizations and 25% of deaths were among people who were fully vaccinated.

About 55% of eligible Michigan residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state health department. Although Michiganders 5 through 11 years old recently became eligible for the vaccine, less than 13% have gotten their first dose.

Michigan reported nearly 1,000 ongoing outbreaks this week, including 140 new outbreaks tied to schools.


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