Federal Government Dispatches Teams to Michigan to Help Deal With COVID-19 Surge

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
November 25, 2021 Updated: November 26, 2021

The federal government is dispatching a pair of medical teams to Michigan to help the state deal with surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The two teams, comprised of 22 medical personnel each, are expected to arrive next week and begin treating patients almost immediately, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). One team will go to Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn, and the other will go to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids.

“We deeply appreciate receiving this much-needed support,” John Fox, Beaumont Health’s chief executive, said in a statement.

In addition, the federal government has agreed to open beds at the John D. Dingell Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit, with the aim of easing overcrowded hospitals.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, had asked the federal government for the medical assistance and MDHHS had requested Veterans Affairs hospitals to open beds for civilians.

“I’m grateful that the federal government has granted our request to provide much-needed relief to the health care personnel who have remained on the frontlines of this pandemic,” Whitmer said in a statement.

The Michigan Health and Hospital Association said even more help is needed. The group has requested 150 federal specialists.

Michigan recorded 7,123 positive COVID-19 cases on Nov. 22. The state is currently the nation’s worst hot spot for COVID-19.

Hospitalizations in Michigan have also increased in recent weeks. Most of the patients in the state’s hospitals don’t have COVID-19—about 20 percent of patients in hospital beds this week tested positive for the virus—but the COVID-19 patients are pushing some facilities to the breaking point, officials say.

Beaumont Hospital was at 92 percent capacity as of Nov. 24, while several Spectrum Health hospitals were dealing with full or close to full capacity, according to data collected by the state. Statewide, nearly nine in 10 inpatient hospital beds were occupied.

“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,” said Elizabeth Hertel, director of MDHHS.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

A rising share of the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are among those people who are deemed to be fully vaccinated or those who have gone at least two weeks since getting the final dose of a primary series of COVID-19 vaccinations.

In the 20 days leading up to Nov. 12, 28 percent of cases, 29 percent of hospitalizations, and 25 percent of deaths were among the fully vaccinated, according to MDHHS.

In addition, hospital admissions with COVID-19 were increasing for all age groups, though the increase was highest for those aged 60 or older.

About six in 10 Michigan residents were vaccinated as of Nov. 23.

Officials say the fact that most COVID-19 patients and deaths are unvaccinated shows that the vaccines are still effective in preventing hospitalization and death. Studies and real-world data show that the vaccines become less effective over time against infection and severe disease, prompting health officials to authorize and recommend vaccine booster shots for virtually all Americans aged 18 or older.

“We ask everyone to please get vaccinated,” Fox said.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.