Major Northern Michigan health system goes ‘red’ to care for COVID-19 patients

FILE - This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. Pfizer says its experimental pill for COVID-19 cut rates of hospitalization and death by nearly 90% among patients with mild-to-moderate infections. The company announced Friday, Nov. 5, 2021 it will soon ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and international regulators to authorize its pill, which is taken twice a day for five days. (NIAID-RML via AP) (Uncredited)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – A major health care provider in northern Michigan said it is putting an emphasis on COVID-19 care and reducing other services after a spike in the region.

Munson Healthcare, based in Traverse City, said it moved its pandemic response to a “red” stage in the northwestern Lower Peninsula.

“It’s the first time in Munson Healthcare history that we made that decision,” chief medical officer Christine Nefcy said Tuesday. “Of course, this is the first pandemic we’ve all dealt with in 100 years as well.”

More data: Tracking Michigan COVID-19 hospitalization data trends

Munson had a test positivity rate of 22 percent by Sunday. About 100 people with COVID-19 were in Munson hospitals, including 56 in Traverse City, the Record-Eagle reported.

At least 24 people have died since Oct. 26, Nefcy said.

The Leland school district, 25 miles north of Traverse City, said schools would be closed Friday. It encouraged staff and students to get vaccinated.

Superintendent Stephanie Long said the sudden decision to close before the weekend was necessary “given the recent uptick in positive cases affecting our school and local community.”