‘Suffering, frustration and despair’: Health experts encourage people to get vaccinated, boosted as omicron variant spreads

President Joe Biden says holidays could be dangerous for the unvaccinated

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a COVID briefing on Tuesday for the first time since June.

DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a COVID briefing on Tuesday for the first time since June.

Whitmer answered questions about whether the current COVID surge warrants new mandates and she had messages for people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated.

“We’re in for another tough 4-6 weeks, is what all the experts are projecting, with the omicron variant spreading rapidly across the country,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer resisted any calls for more mandates or shutdowns. She urged Michigan residents to get vaccinated against COVID, wear masks indoors and get tested before the holidays.

Read more: 11 takeaways from Whitmer’s first COVID briefing since June: Mandates, omicron, ‘critical point’

Whitmer said she’s been told that Michigan is in for a tough four to six weeks. She said she’s heard reports about omicron not being as serious as the delta variant, but said because it’s so contagious we can’t be certain that is the case.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced that the government would provide 500 million free rapid tests, increase support for hospitals and redouble vaccination and boosting efforts.

This change to the COVID-19 winter plan comes as the omicron variant spreads across the nation. Biden said the winter holidays could be close to normal for the vaccinated, but potentially dangerous for the unvaccinated.

During Whitmer’s conference, at a seperate briefing, a Michigan intensive care unit physician in Grand Rapids described the COVID situation inside hospitals.

“What I see every day is heartbreaking,” said Dr. Shelley Schmidt, a pulmonary critical care specialist. “I see school-aged children draped over the body of their parent with tear-streaked cheeks and bloodshot eyes, with their mother asking, ‘Why my husband?’ Their parents asking, ‘Why my son? What more could we have done?’”

Read more: ‘Tear-streaked cheeks and bloodshot eyes’: Michigan doctor details COVID situation in ICUs

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced that the government would provide 500 million free rapid tests, increase support for hospitals and redouble vaccination and boosting efforts.

This change to the COVID-19 winter plan comes as the omicron variant spreads across the nation. Biden said the winter holidays could be close to normal for the vaccinated, but potentially dangerous for the unvaccinated.

The number of confirmed cases of the omicron variant in Michigan is on the rise. Wayne County is new to the list, with two confirmed cases. Genesee County also has two confirmed cases. Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw counties all have one confirmed case. Kent County has a single confirmed case, bringing the statewide total to eight.

Dr. Frank McGeorge has seen suffering, frustration, despair at Metro Detroit hospital

Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge works in an emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Local 4′s Dr. Frank McGeorge works in an emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

He said it would take a miracle to relieve the amount of suffering, frustration and despair he’s seen lately for both patients and staff.

Dr. John Deledda, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine for Henry Ford said this has been the worst stage of the pandemic to date and the situation is urgent. The burden of preventable illness and death for the past two years has placed an intense emotional and cognitive load on staff and the strongest among them has been broken physically, emotionally and mentally.

“If we cannot control the spread of COVID-19 infections in our communities and we don’t know yet what omicron is going to bring us, our communities access to safe and high quality health care is at risk,” Deledda said.

Henry Ford Health System’s Chief Operating Officer Bob Riney said the community spread is also worsening the hospital workforce shortage as breakthrough infections strike healthcare workers.

“In the last seven days we’ve had 113 team members test positive for COVID, but today we had almost 100 employees test positive for COVID,” Riney said.

Health experts are urging everyone to be cautious this holiday season. Get vaccinated, get boosted and wear masks.

Read: Complete Michigan COVID coverage

COVID cases are overwhelming hospitals in Michigan as the omicron variant spreads across the nation.

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.