A growing number of people sick with coronavirus are putting a pinch on hospitals and emergency medical services in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, health officials said Friday.
The Luce, Mackinac, Alger and Schoolcraft District Health Department issued a public health advisory, saying there are now 31 separate COVID-19 outbreaks in the UP associated with long-term care and health care facilities, religious services, sporting events, restaurants, private gatherings and workplaces.
“The UP currently has more than four times the number of active cases as there were at this time in 2020,” said Kerry Ott, a spokeswoman for the LMAS District, which includes Mackinac Island.
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“We have been advised by the Region 8 Healthcare Coalition in the UP and Region 7 in Northern Lower Michigan that ICU (intensive care unit) bed availability is extremely tight along with EMS coverage. Hospitalizations across the region have gone up steadily over the past week. Emergency department COVID visits are also trending up across the area.”
State hospital bed tracking data show that just 17 ICU beds remain available in all of the Upper Peninsula. And in Region 7, which covers 17 counties in the upper Lower Peninsula, there are only 37 available ICU beds.
“We cannot take the delta variant of the COVID virus lightly,” Ott said, noting that the highly contagious strain now accounts for 99% of cases that undergo whole genome sequencing in the area.
In the month of July, LMAS District Health Department had just seven confirmed cases of COVID-19, she said. From Aug. 1-27, the region has had 205 confirmed cases — a 2,829% increase.
The advisory urges all vaccine-eligible people in the region to get COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible and to wear masks in any indoor setting when around others who don’t live in the same household.
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Michigan’s case rate, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 have been steadily climbing for weeks; the state now averages 1,743 new daily cases and 1,131 people are hospitalized statewide with confirmed cases.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now classifies every county in Michigan as having high or substantial spread of the virus, and advises mask wearing in public places.
Contact Kristen Shamus: [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.
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