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Intensive care bed space 'extremely tight' in Northern Michigan

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Intensive care bed availability and emergency medical services coverage are "extremely tight" in Northern Michigan, according to an advisory issued Friday evening by a district health department in the Upper Peninsula.

The notice came as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been increasing in the state for more than a month amid concerns among health officials of a fourth wave of the virus hitting the state.

"We have been advised by the Region 8 Healthcare Coalition in the U.P. and Region 7 in Northern Lower Michigan that ICU bed availability is extremely tight along with EMS coverage," said the advisory from the LMAS District Health Department, which serves residents of Luce, Mackinac, Alger and Schoolcraft counties

Registered nurse Krysten Grabiel prepares to go into a patient’s room on 9 West at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mich. on April 21, 2021. Intensive care bed availability and emergency medical services coverage are "extremely tight" in Northern Michigan, according to an advisory issued Friday.

"Hospitalizations across the region have gone up steadily over the past week," the advisory said. "Emergency department COVID visits are also trending up across the area."

On Friday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 3,958 new infections statewide over a two-day period and 69 new deaths linked to the virus. Over the last seven days, the state has reported 12,104 new COVID-19 cases, up 16% from the total over the previous seven-day period.

The number of adults hospitalized in Michigan with confirmed cases of the virus reached 1,115 on Friday. The tally has been rising throughout August but remains well below the peaks of more than 4,000 adult hospitalizations reached during the spring surge in Michigan.

However, public health officials are concerned about the highly contagious delta variant and spikes in cases and hospitalizations that are occurring in other states.

The Michigan health department has said a fourth surge is likely.

In July, Luce, Mackinac, Alger and Schoolcraft counties added seven COVID-19 cases, according to the counties' health department. From Aug. 1 through Friday, the counties reported 205 new cases, a 2,829% increase, the department said.

"The Upper Peninsula has had eight straight weeks of increases," the department said Friday. "The last two week period increase was 852 cases. The U.P. currently has more than four times the number of active cases as there were at this time in 2020."

On Monday, Ruthanne Sudderth, spokeswoman for the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, said the group is "very concerned with the resource constraints recent surges have caused in other states and importantly, the nationwide rise in delta variant cases affecting kids."

"Our hospitals and their providers have been urging families to get vaccinated as soon as possible and return to mask wearing in public even after getting their shots," Sudderth said.

As of Thursday, 65.4% of Michigan's residents age 16 and up had gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a presentation this week, the state health department said over the last 30 days, people who are not fully vaccinated developed COVID-19 at a rate seven times that of fully vaccinated people and experienced COVID deaths at a rate 30 times that of fully vaccinated people.