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Coronavirus in Michigan: Beaumont expects to see ‘significant number of critically ill patients’

Call hotline before going to see a physician

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – A man being treated at a Beaumont hospital in Wayne County who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) has died, according to health officials.

He is the first confirmed coronavirus death in the state of Michigan. Health officials said he died early Wednesday morning. He was in his 50s and had other underlying medical conditions.

READ: Michigan officials: State has at least 30 more confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing total to 110

Beaumont Health Chief Nursing Officer Susan Grant and Beaumont Health’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology Nick Gilpin spoke at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

“Our medical team went to extraordinary efforts to care for this patient, and we are deeply saddened by his passing and empathize with his family,” Grant said. “Our physicians, nurses and medical staff are all working together to care for COVID-19 patients. During a time like this, we are united to battle this virus."

Coronavirus testing is being processed onsite at Beaumont on a limited basis. Gilpin said they don’t have enough testing supplies to test everyone.

MORE: Beaumont begins processing Michigan coronavirus tests to get results more quickly

“This is an unprecedented situation in Michigan and across the country we’re dealing with right now,” Gilpin said.

On Tuesday health officials completed 500 tests and sent more than 1,000 to state and other national labs to obtain results. Gilpin noted that testing facilities are being overrun.

He urged young people who are otherwise healthy and don’t have underlying conditions to not get tested.

“A lot of patients who are experiencing mild symptoms and don’t have underlying symptoms don’t need to be tested because it won’t change how we will treat you,” he said.

If you do want to seek testing, you can contact the Beaumont or state hotlines. On Wednesday, Beaumont launched an online risk assessment website.

Check here: Hotlines, resources for help during coronavirus outbreak in Michigan

“Mild symptoms, young, relatively health people without chronic medical conditions -- we don’t have the capacity to test all of you. There’s a very good chance that many of you may have COVID-19,” Gilpin said. “Testing you is not going to necessarily make a difference with regard to how we treat you. We’re going to recommend that you go home. We’re going to recommend that you practice social distancing.”

You should talk with a nurse or physician on the phone prior to seeking testing. Beaumont is offering drive-thru testing at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. They have screened 1,500 patients.

“Having people come in that, frankly, are not that sick consumes those resources and really hinders our ability to care for those that need it the most,” Gilpin said.

All nonessential services at Beaumont have been put on pause.

Gilpin said that based on data from other countries who are dealing with coronavirus there will be more cases.

“There will be a significant number of critically ill patients. There will be a significant number of patients that will die from COVID-19,” he said. “The vast majority of people who get COVID-19 will recover and they will recover uneventfully.”

He said he expects between 80-90 percent of patients to recover uneventfully.

MORE: Here’s which Michigan counties have confirmed cases of coronavirus

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

MORE: Beaumont Health launches coronavirus hotline for patients with symptoms

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.


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