For Amy Brown, exhaustion has been the one constant in the battle against the coronavirus.
“It's just this constant state of being busy,” said Brown, the chief operating nurse at Sparrow Health Center in Lansing. “I think that's what making [healthcare workers] feel so exhausted. It's not always physically exhausted. It's just emotionally and mentally kind of exhausted.”
Michigan is experiencing the highest rate of COVID-19 hospitalization it’s seen throughout the entire pandemic according to the MI Safe Start Map.
Hospitals in the county are currently treating 191 COVID-19 patients, 22 of those patients are being treated in the Intensive Care Unit as of Wednesday morning.
Many public health officials are optimistic that vaccination efforts and a 12-day streak of cases trending down could make this the last surge of the pandemic. With more than 70 percent of Michiganders 65 and older vaccinated for COVID-19, health officials are confident that the vaccine can prevent hospitalization and death at the hands of the virus.
Which hasn't made the recent surge any easier.
Brown says seeing younger COVID-19 patients has been one of the hardest parts.
“It’s frightening to see thirties, forties, and 50-year-olds on ventilators and having them be so sick,” she said. “We don't want this wave to go down and then have another wave of even younger patients. And so I think that that that is in the back of everyone's mind.”
Brown hopes younger Michiganders will get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“I think sometimes people think, because they’re young, they don’t get as sick but, that’s not what we’ve seen. I think that people really need to understand that you can come down with COVID. And you can become very ill very quickly,” Brown said.
In Ingham County 49 percent, of COVID-19 cases are found in residents aged 29 and younger.
“We’re below 30 percent for the first time in a long time in that 20 to 29 age group. We’re at about 16 percent in the 10 to 19 age group. Those two make up a considerable number of our cases,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said Tuesday.
The greater Lansing area was identified as one of the nation’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks by the New York Times just a few weeks ago. Now, local health officials are seeing a downward trend in cases that they hope will bring down hospitalization rates as well.
Healthcare workers have become the heroes of this pandemic, but Brown says they know their work is far from over. She recalled the awards and praise nurses received from patients and their families that seem like it happened so long ago and shared her frustration that it feels like nothing is changing.
“To feel like we're still in that, that state where we have patients that are on ventilators and are having to or that are dying from them,” Brown said. “What we're feeling is, is that we're not done yet.”
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