GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Earlier this week, parts of West Michigan were upgraded to the "high" level of COVID-19 transmission. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says this fall could look a lot like last spring with more hospitalizations and deaths.
MDHHS says in between now and winter we could see more than 4,000 deaths and 12,000 or more hospitalizations across the state.
Closer to home, hospitals are once again preparing for another surge. Dr. Andrew Jameson, medical director of infection prevention and control at Mercy Health Saint Mary's, says at one point in July they had zero hospitalizations. Now it’s between 15-20.
Dr. Jameson says at our peak in November, about 90-100 patients were admitted into the hospital. He says we are a long way from that happening here in West Michigan but an increase is coming because of the highly contagious delta variant.
Dr. Jameson says the patient care part of things is covered, but the burden on staff is brutal.
“One of the biggest things we're dealing with is just the impact on morale and the impact on people just feeling like we're doing it all over again. That's hard," Dr. Jameson said.
He says the two things that can help lift the burden for our healthcare heroes is vaccines and wearing a mask.
On a positive note, in Kent County around 65% of the population is fully vaccinated.
In recent weeks the number of new vaccinations is going up but at a slow rate.
“We want to see those numbers go up faster and that really is super effective, what the vaccine is going to do, and if we can get everyone vaccinated, it's going to be in a scenario where this virus will simply become another cold virus that we don't have to worry about. But right now, we have to worry about all those unvaccinated people out there because of the impact it has on the health system," Dr. Jameson said.
He’s recommending that everyone regardless of vaccination status mask up in indoor settings right now to protect the unvaccinated.
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