GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer provided an update on the state’s COVID-19 response ahead of the holidays including a goal to have one million more Michiganders receive a COVID-19 booster shot by Jan. 21, 2022.
“I encourage every Michigander who is eligible to get their booster shot. Together, we can help 1 million more Michiganders, including 95% of all eligible nursing home residents get their boosters by the end of January 2022,” Whitmer said.
The governor was joined by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel, Dr. Shelley Schmidt, a pulmonary disease expert at Spectrum Health, Dr. Daliya Khuon, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Dr. Lillian Cummings-Pulliams, a school psychologist at Wyoming Public Schools, Alita Kelly, owner of Southeast Market and Paster Jerry Bishop with Life Quest Center.
“What I see every day is heartbreaking,” Schmidt said while giving a glimpse of life inside the hospital. “I see school-age children draped over the body of their parent with tear-streaked cheeks and bloodshot eyes with their mother asking, ‘why my husband, why my son? what more could we have done?'”
Schmidt, who wrote the first COVID-19 death certificate for Spectrum, pleaded for more people to get vaccinated.
“I have never taken care of a patient dying from the vaccine, (but) I have taken care of dozens and dozens who are dead from this virus,” she said. “Nearly all (of them) unvaccinated. Healthy people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.”
Khuon also urged parents to get their kids vaccinated.
“(COVID-19) has now become the number three non-accidental cause of death, only behind cancer and heart disease, in children,” Khuon said.
Hertel reminded Michiganders that it’s impossible to predict if someone will get mild, severe or long term COVID-19 symptoms.
“Even otherwise healthy and young people can get sick or end up needing care, so it is important that everyone use all the proven prevention strategies at our disposal,” Hertel said. “If you are gathering with family, friends or traveling to a bowl game, be extra vigilant, get vaccinated, get tested and wear a mask to keep yourself and your family safe.”
The state shared the following steps for Michiganders to take to protect themselves and others:
- Get your vaccine. Get your booster. Find an appointment at vaccines.gov.
- Mask up in public indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings. Upgrade your mask to something with additional layers such as a KN95 mask or wear two well-fitting face coverings.
- For holiday gatherings with friends or family, immunocompromised people should take all precautions of unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask. If a member of your household has a weakened immune system, wear a mask. If you have symptoms consistent with for COVID-19 or if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, and before any unmasked gatherings, get tested.
State data shows between Saturday and Monday there were 13,999 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 160 related deaths. Sunday’s positivity rate was 15.93%, bringing the seven-day average back up to 16.3%.
As of Monday, state data shows 28 hospitals are at or above 90% capacity with two of those at full capacity.
In West Michigan, hospitalization numbers remain high with many still nearing capacity: University of Michigan West at 92%, Spectrum Butterworth at 91%, Spectrum Blodgett at 91%, Ascension Borgess at 98%, Bronson Battle Creek at 97%, and Bronson Methodist at 88%.