Michigan emergency rooms are at 'near capacity' as COVID-19 surges: report

Michigan emergency rooms are at 'near capacity' as COVID-19 surges: report

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75% of U.S.-based adults have now been at least partially vaccinated for the COVID-19 coronavirus. But with COVID-19's highly infectious Delta variant raging, many hospitals in the United States are being inundated with new COVID-19 patients — including those operated by Beaumont Health in Michigan.

The Detroit News' Karen Bouffard reports, "Emergency departments at Beaumont Health's eight hospitals and two emergency centers are near capacity, prompting Michigan's largest health care system to ask people not to visit unless their health needs are urgent. Some of the emergency patients are arriving with COVID-19 symptoms, but the majority have other health problems that they ignored during the pandemic that have now become urgent, Beaumont officials said Wednesday."

At a press conference on Wednesday, September 15, Beaumont representatives urged Michigan residents not to visit the emergency room if they can avoid it. But Dr. David Donaldson, emergency center chief and medical director of the vaccine clinic at Beaumont Hospital Troy, also said that someone facing an emergency situation should seek medical attention ASAP.

Donaldson explained, "If you're having symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath and stroke-like symptoms — that's quite obvious. I would err on the side of caution and come into the ER. It's better to be evaluated and not have an emergency than to have an emergency and not be evaluated. If it's something that's been ongoing, more of a long-term issue, or just a minor issue, I think we have other ways you can be seen such as an urgent care or calling your own doctor."

Although the fact that 75% of adults in the United States have been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19, President Joe Biden and expert immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci — Biden's top medical expert in the White House — have been stressing that a lot more people need to get vaccinated. Most of the people who are dying from COVID-19 in the U.S. at this point are unvaccinated.

It is certainly possible to get infected with COVID-19 even if one is fully vaccinated, but those "breakthrough" infections, as medical experts call them, tend to be less severe. "Real Time" host Bill Maher and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, for example, were infected with COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated but didn't have life-threatening symptoms or require hospitalization. Maher has attributed the vaccine he received to the fact that he was asymptomatic.

Bouffard reports, "Dr. Christopher Carpenter, an infectious diseases specialist and chair of Internal Medicine at Beaumont Royal Oak Hospital, said 241 patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 across the health system as of Wednesday, and most are unvaccinated. About one-third were vaccinated, and most of those are elderly people who would have been among the earliest cohorts to get the shots. The health system is preparing to give booster shots when the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives hospitals the go-ahead, expected in late September, he said."

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