Beaumont hospitals have hit critical capacity levels as COVID-19 infections continue to soar throughout Michigan, officials said Thursday.
Beaumont Health says its Metro Detroit hospitals and staff have reached critical capacity levels amid the virus surge. Officials announced Thursday morning that the number of COVID-19 patients at Beaumont hospitals has reached more than 800, exceeding the volume of patients seen during the state’s last virus surge in the fall. The health care system was reportedly only caring for 128 COVID-19 patients on Feb. 28.
Beaumont officials and health care workers are pleading for Michigan residents to “personally take immediate steps to help stop the spread of the virus.”
“Our COVID-19 numbers are climbing higher and faster and it’s very troubling and alarming to see this,” said Beaumont Health CEO John Fox. “We are grateful for the knowledge attained from the first two surges. It has helped save many lives. We also now have effective vaccines. To flatten the curve again, we all need to work together now: wear masks, wash hands, avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing and get vaccinated. We cannot do this alone. We need everyone’s help immediately.”
Just a few weeks ago, the health system reinstated visitor restrictions as coronavirus spread increased rapidly throughout the region in an effort to protect patients and staff. No visitors are currently allowed into the rooms of Beaumont patients who are either pending or confirmed positive for COVID-19.
“The new COVID-19 variants are more contagious. The patients we are seeing are younger and some are sicker and in need of intense medical attention,” said Dr. Nick Gilpin, medical director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology at Beaumont. “Some younger patients also seem to be waiting longer to get care, thinking they can beat the virus. By the time they come to the hospital, we’re seeing intense illness with pneumonia, blood clots and severe lung injury. This trend does not seem to be slowing down.”
Beaumont’s announcement comes as several Metro Detroit health care systems have been sounding alarms over dangerous hospital capacity levels due to the rise in COVID patients in recent weeks.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said last week that about 18 percent of all COVID tests are coming back positive. With such highly daily new cases, more people are expected to be hospitalized in a few weeks.
“We are on track to potentially see a surge in cases that’s even greater than the one we saw in the fall,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive of the MDHHS.
“Hospitals are evaluating and implementing their surge plans, including consideration of canceling elective surgeries that are not time sensitive and preparing to make sure they have the equipment, supplies, and staff to be able to take care of both COVID and non COVID patients,” Khaldun continued.
Despite the alarming virus metrics, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has maintained that the state will not impose any new restrictions, instead combatting the surge by ramping up COVID vaccinations. National health officials do not agree with this plan, saying the state of Michigan should “shut down” in response to the elevated virus spread.
During a news briefing Wednesday, Whitmer pushed coronavirus therapies in an effort to help residents infected with COVID-19 and keep them from becoming hospitalized. She says the therapies are not a replacement for COVID-19 vaccinations.