Flint, MI–Rising COVID-19 cases in Genesee County, paired with an influx of seasonal viruses like the flu, are causing hospitals in Flint to reach or come close to 100 percent bed occupancy.
As of Monday, Nov. 22, Hurley Medical Center is reporting 55 COVID-19 patients. 21 of these patients are currently in the ICU. That number is up 12 people from last week’s 43 with ICU cases rising to 21 from last week’s 14. Other hospitals like McLaren Flint are reporting 79 COVID-19 patients, with 17 of those being ICU cases. McLaren itself is nearing full capacity with a 95 percent bed occupancy rate.
Laura Jasso, Hurley’s administrator of marketing and community relations, said in a Nov. 22 email, “We and the other hospitals in our area are operating at extremely high capacity. This is due to COVID-19 and the many other illnesses and injuries we must care for.”
While bed occupancy rates remain high, Jasso said patients at Hurley should expect longer than usual wait times, potential postponement of surgeries or other procedures, visitor restrictions, and prolonged stays and waiting times for beds inside the emergency department.
Associate Dean for Public Health Integration at Michigan State University, Debra Furr-Holden said the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks is a symptom of a greater problem.
“The national trends that we saw, Michigan wasn’t experiencing that,” said Furr-Holden, pointing out that unlike many other states including Alabama, California and Illinois, Michigan’s COVID-19 numbers rose steadily after the nationwide decrease in cases that came with the widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“When COVID started going down in other places, it wasn’t going down in Michigan. It was sort of staying the same and creeping up a little bit … Our community spread has never really gotten under control in this last wave. If you look at our community, we’ve been creeping up and then the scales tip and we get a big boom,” Furr-Holden said.
With Thanksgiving approaching, Furr-Holden urged Flint residents to be mindful of how they organize family gatherings. She suggested speaking with guests beforehand about potential symptoms they might have. Furr-Holden also mentioned avoiding buffet-style dinners.
“It’s the basic stuff. We were able to flatten the curve before. We had rates lower than we have right now even when we didn’t have the vaccine. We did that with preventative measures. So now that we have a vaccine if people practice prevention and get vaccinated, we can turn the tides,” Furr-Holden said.