As the chief medical officers representing Michigan hospitals and healthcare systems, we want to tell the public that the recent Michigan Department of Health and Human Services three-week order is doing what we expected: it’s slowly stabilizing the spread of COVID-19 and leading to stabilized hospitalizations. To see meaningful change that truly alleviates stress on the healthcare system, we urge the state to extend protections through the holiday season. We still don’t know what impact Thanksgiving will have, but we do know that with the recent pause, we’re seeing some slight improvements. As a state, we must not let our guard down and reverse this progress.
Michigan was on the path to record COVID-19 case rates, deaths and hospitalizations when this order was adopted in November. Today, our hospitals continue to face critical healthcare worker staffing shortages and troubling bed capacity numbers. Our teams on the front lines are exhausted as this second surge continues; we never truly recovered from the first. Now, data is indicating slight declines in COVID-19 emergency department visits, daily admissions and total hospitalizations. As physicians, we’re telling you: these measures are working.
We urge Michiganders to continue taking preventive measures — stay home whenever possible, wear a mask, maintain at least six feet of distance from others, avoid crowds (especially indoor spaces where masks are removed), do not congregate with people other than those from your own household, get your flu shot and wash your hands frequently. Urge your friends, family and acquaintances to do the same.
Those of us working in hospitals are members of your community. We are your neighbors and friends. We have families and holiday traditions of our own that we’re missing, too. With vaccines now in sight, nobody wants to see the progress of the last three weeks go to waste.
All of us wish this holiday season could be normal. The reality is, this year is a time to focus on giving others, and yourself, the gift of health. That’s something we can all celebrate together in 2021.