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Federal medical teams will help two Michigan hospitals with "avoidable" COVID-19 surge

A healthcare worker process a COVID-19 test at Beaumont.
Beaumont Health

The federal government has agreed to a request by the Whitmer administration to send medical teams to Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, which are struggling to handle a huge surge of COVID-19 patients.

Each team will have 22 medical personnel, including doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists.

Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, President of Spectrum Health West Michigan, said the additional aid is very welcome. He says Spectrum hospitals are "beyond capacity," with COVID-19 and other patients.

But he said most of the current hospitalizations and deaths from COVID were avoidable. Of the 405 patients currently admitted to Spectrum hospitals, 91% are unvaccinated, he said, and 94% of those in the ICUs are unvaccinated.

His most recent round at one of Spectrum's hospitals was heart-breaking, he said.

"There were previously healthy people in their 30s on the ventilator, who are practically dying of COVID 19," said Elmouchi. "It's just so sad. And the same common theme throughout is, they're all unvaccinated."

Elmouchi said Spectrum is also getting more doses of monoclonal antibody medicines. Those medicines can help higher risk COVID patients if administered in the early days of infection.

In Detroit, the Dingell VA Hospital said it will respond to overflowing hospitals by offering beds to non-veteran patients.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said on Wednesday she will not order a new set of mandatory public health measures.

She told WOOD-TV that ordering skeptics to wear masks and get vaccinated won’t work.

“We’ve seen a real overlay of where people are getting COVID to where there’s higher unvaccinated rates,” she said. “It is absolutely, that’s what’s driving the issue that we have. So, statewide mandates don’t make a lot of sense in this moment because it is a specific population of unvaccinated folks that we need to encourage to get vaccinated.”

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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