ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — With infections reaching all-time highs, omicron continues to spread unlike any previous COVID-19 variant.
"The system is at its breaking point," said Dr. Matthew Sims, director of Infectious Disease Research at Beaumont Health. "A little more and it’s going to tip over."
Sims says this surge is incredibly challenging. The massive spike in cases has sent more than 430 employees throughout Beaumont Health home sick on top of the increased caseload.
“In the beginning, it was all focused here in Michigan in the Tri-County area," Sims said. "Now, it’s everywhere.”
On Monday, the state of Michigan reached a record for hospitalized adults with COVID-19 despite the fact that omicron appears to be less severe.
“It's translating to a smaller percentage of patients, but we have a larger pool of patients contracting omicron," said Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Elizabeth Hertel. "So, it could potentially be more than we saw with delta.”
Hertel says according to the state’s models, the peak has still not been reached and cases will continue to climb for the next two to three weeks.
“I think people need to be prepared to see our case rates increase significantly over the next 10 days,” Hertel said.
As for severity, roughly 18% of all hospitalized adults confirmed to have COVID-19 in Michigan are in the ICU.
Sims cautions since every patient at the hospital is tested for COVID-19, even those with mild symptoms hospitalized for other reasons can end up counting as hospitalized COVID-19 patients. With how fast omicron is spreading and the often mild symptoms that come with it, this situation is happening more often.
“Are you saying that’s something that may add to the numbers or is that a rare situation,” 7 Action News reporter Brett Kast asked.
"No, that’s definitely adding to the numbers," Sims responded. "A certain percentage of our patients who are in with COVID are not sick from COVID, they’re sick with other things. But we have to deal with their COVID also.”
On Fox News Sunday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky also said the same.
“In some hospitals that we’ve talked to, up to 40% of the patients who are coming in with COVID are coming in not because they're sick with COVID-19 but because they're coming in with something else,” Walensky said.
However, Sims says this doesn’t change the fact that many people are still very sick and dying of COVID-19. He’s encouraging the vaccine and booster shots, saying those very sick patients are almost always unvaccinated.
“It’ll break through, especially if you’re not boosted," Sims said of the omicron variant. "You’ll get infected, you may even get a little bit of symptoms, but you won't get that sick.”