by Scott McClallen


Health care leaders and doctors say hospitals are “just keeping our heads above water” as 21.5% of inpatient beds are COVID-19 patients – an all-time high since the beginning of the pandemic.

In a virtual press conference Friday, State Health Director Elizabeth Hertel and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian urged residents to get vaccinated, including booster shots, and wear masks.

“The situation in our state is critical right now,” Bagdasarian said. “Cases are surging. Hospitals are full.”

A graph provided by the state health department showing the percentage of COVID-19 patients in inpatient beds. (Graph: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services)

They said 87 people died of COVID-19 every day last week.

The medical professionals stressed that the COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of infection, severe illness and death.

More than a year ago, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shuttered indoor dining at bars and restaurants for 75 days and suspended in-person learning at high schools and colleges.

Although Whitmer still holds power to issue temporary orders, she hasn’t – a drastic change from 2020 when she issued dozens of executive orders to combat COVID-19.

About 75% of the hospitalized COVID-19 patients across the state are not fully vaccinated, state officials say.

A MDHHS graph showing the disparity between COVID-19 case and death rates for those vaccinated and unvaccinated. (Chart: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services)

The state health department hasn’t issued a statewide mandate for masks in schools, but Hertel encouraged districts and county health officials to enact them locally.

Dr. Paolo Marciano, chief medical officer for Dearborn’s Beaumont Hospital said receiving federal staffing assistance has been a “tremendous lifeline.”

“Where we are today is really just keeping our head above water,” he said.

Marciano said they learned from the first COVID-19 surge that “deferring chronic illness is not the answer.” Instead, they’re trying to focus on patient load level and push some surgeries that can happen outside an acute care sight.

“So we’re doing what I consider to be just articulate load balancing, and it’s a juggling act to say the least because every patient’s surgery is needed,” Marciano said.

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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on and Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.