LANSING, Mich. — Medical officials from 21 hospital systems across Michigan signed an open letter to Michiganders on Wednesday urging them to get vaccinated and wear their masks as COVID-19 cases increase and experts fear a fourth wave.
“I think the reason why I wanted to sign on to the letter is just because I promote wearing masks-- I think that not only does it help prevent the spread of COVID… it helps prevent other things as well," said Sparrow Health System's Chief Nursing Officer Amy Brown.
Across the country the vast majority of critically ill patients with COVID-19 are unvaccinated and here at home in Michigan there are currently more than 1,000 individuals currently hospitalized.
Brown wants to see more people exercising caution.
“People like myself were hoping that if you got the vaccine you wouldn’t have to wear the mask and unfortunately that’s not the case," she said. "We’re seeing that while the majority of our COVID cases are not vaccinated we still see some people that are getting COVID and they have been vaccinated. So that tells me that we still need to be vigilant with mask wearing, and hand washing and doing those other things that we know will help.”
Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford Health System's chief clinical officer says that Michigan's hospital systems could face significant strain if more residents don't get vaccinated.
"If we don’t get more people vaccinated our collective health system will be strained again. As our children return to schools and colleges and as the flu season is looming the situation can get dire very, very fast," Dr. Munkarah said.
The danger is that everyone who needs care during a surge might not get it because of exhausted hospital capacity.
“If COVID is able to overrun our hospitals again like it has done a year plus ago, and if it strains our intensive care units, caring for other patients with life threatening conditions like heart attack, advanced cancer, stroke, injuries from bad accidents could be significantly impacted in the weeks and months ahead," he said.
Dr. Lydia Watson, Mid-Michigan Health's chief medical officer said that in recent weeks she and her colleagues have noticed an increasing positivity rate while vaccinations have plateaued.
"At mid-Michigan Health, six weeks ago, our positivity record was just over two percent. As of this morning we're over 11 percent. So, we are seeing more individuals in the community that are being infected with the Covid, more hospitalizations, more patients, again, in the intensive care units," she said.
Health experts said their letter is meant to show Michiganders that they trust the vaccines and want to be able to care for everyone.
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