Coronavirus case numbers continue to rise in Michigan, soaring past the highest peak in spring.
Looking back, are there any differences between the virus’ surge then and now?
There are differences, some good and some bad. When the virus first arrived, we knew very little about it. So back in the spring, Michigan’s hospitalization rate at one point peaked near 4,000 and our highest death rate was just over 200.
But now, our hospitalization rate is lower, near 1,000 and our death rate is under 30.
And when you look at our case numbers, even though they are up - a lot more than I’d like them to be - the percentage of positive test results are lower. Because back in April, COVID tests were scarce, there was a major shortage, so at one point our 7-day average positive rate was 40% for roughly 5,500 tests.
But now, we have much better access to testing. And as of last week, over 38,000 Michiganders were tested and the positive rate was at 5.1%.
Doctors now better understand how to treat people and complications that arise like blood clots and heart issues. Also, they now have treatment options, like the antiviral medication Remdesivir that was recently approved by the FDA.
There are also steroid drugs and other experimental treatments like the antibody cocktail Regeneron. So folks who end up getting very sick are now more likely to survive.
Another key point that we know more about now is how the virus can spread. Like how people who are presymptomatic and asymptomatic can infect others. And airborne transmission is possible because aerosol particles can remain suspended in the air for hours.
What hasn’t changed? The risk of getting seriously sick or dying for people who are 65 and older and for folks with underlying health conditions.
I know this firsthand. My patients have told me how sick they’ve been, some were hospitalized and one nearly lost his life.
And you know what else hasn’t changed much? Resistance to safety protocols like social distancing and wearing masks.
Now, I see patients day in and day out. I know that masks work because I wear one all day long at my practice. So please, wear a mask. We have a long winter ahead of us.
And hospitalizations in Michigan have surged by more than 80%. Even though we’re lower than the spring, let’s not set a new record. Let’s not overwhelm our hospitals and our doctors and our medical staff. Please follow safety protocols and help keep our communities safer.