Thursday, December 2, 2021

Health officials respond to new MDHHS '3-week pause' order

November 17, 2020
<p>Michigan State University Health Team members testing patients for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing site on April 2, 2020.</p>

Michigan State University Health Team members testing patients for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing site on April 2, 2020.

With a new order issued under the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on Sunday, health officials across the state spoke out in support of the order’s temporary closures.

Among these, indoor dining at bars and restaurants, in-person learning for high schools, colleges and universities, and other indoor recreational activities have been halted. 

In Ingham County, there are 6,237 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 82 deaths as of Friday. County hospitalizations in Sparrow and McLaren health facilities total of 146 confirmed and suspected cases. Of those, 15 are in the intensive care unit and 14 are ventilated as of Nov. 12. In the previous calendar day, there had been a total of 45 emergency department visits between the two health facilities. 

In a release sent Monday, Sparrow expressed strong support for the newly issued emergency order. President and CEO of Sparrow Health System James Dover said doing so is critical in addressing the surge of cases. He also said Sparrow, like many hospitals throughout the state, is experiencing a record number of positive COVOD-19 patients, and testing facilities are facing extraordinary demand. 

“You can start with a very simple step that we have been repeating throughout Sparrow: Wear a mask. Save a life, Dover said in the release. "When you wear a mask, you are showing that you support our healthcare heroes."

With over 250,000 COVID-19 tests processed at Sparrow alone, the health facility has become a national leader in COVID-19 testing. According to the release, Sparrow was likewise one of the first hospitals in Michigan to offer tests for patients. 

In response to the increasing demand, patients will now be required to receive a test order through a qualified medical provider or the MySparrow app prior to being administered a COVID-19 test. 

In a video posted last week, Dover addressed the increasing numbers. On Nov. 12, current Ingham County data showed the largest number of positive COVID-19 tests to date at 222 on that day alone. The second-largest came Nov. 5 at 134 new cases. 

“Back in the spring, I told you, the most difficult time is yet to come," Dover said. "I can’t say I would have predicted though that we would be setting new records as we approach the holidays. It’s a startling reminder of the force of this virus."

Sparrow has been averaging over 50 positive-COVID-19 inpatients every day, higher than at any other time during the pandemic, Dover said. Additionally, given current statistics, about 4% of Michiganders who get this virus will die.

“Those statistics are real people," he said. "Thousands of mothers, daughters, sisters, husbands, fathers, brothers and loved ones who are irreplaceable." 

Among other responses to the order, President and CEO of Henry Ford Health System, Wright L. Lassiter III, underscored this stating that whiles these restrictions may be difficult they are a necessary step to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“The dramatic rise in admissions at hospitals across Michigan is not sustainable,” Lassiter said in a release. “We strongly urge everyone to honor these restrictions and continue safety measures like wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, and practicing social distancing and hand hygiene. Preventing the spread is our collective responsibility and we must be willing to make these sacrifices to save lives of those we love.”  

Jamie Brown, Michigan Nurses Association president and clinical care nurse supported the new order in a release stating that these actions are absolutely necessary to save lives.

"Our state is in an out-of-control crisis because too many people are not taking COVID seriously and are failing to act responsibly," Brown said in the release. "Nurses and frontline health workers are at a breaking point all across the state as the spread of COVID accelerates and people, including nurses, continue to die. These changes are a small price to pay for surviving the pandemic and keeping our loved ones safe. Nurses fully support the state taking these steps as an urgent matter of protecting the health and safety of every Michigan resident. Furthermore, we urge the Legislature to collaborate with the governor on actions to help stop the spread of this deadly virus.”

In administrating the order, MDHHS Director Robert Gordon emphasized that indoor gatherings are the greatest source of spread and sharply limiting them is the focus.

“The order is targeted and temporary, but a terrible loss of life will be forever unless we act," Gordon said. "By coming together today, we can save thousands of lives." 

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