Michigan's Chief Medical Executive concerned by 1000% increases in COVID case rates in other states

Dr. Bagdasarian says low vaccination rates create danger
Posted at 5:37 PM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 18:36:33-05

“We are in a very difficult position right now,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, who is also an infectious disease physician, says Michigan is positioned under the weight of both delta and omicron COVID-19 variants.

“Our hospitals are completely overwhelmed. Our hospitals are struggling. We have had to ask for federal assistance, so we are in a bad place,” she says.

“Other states have experienced a 1000% increase in cases when they first faced their surge of omicron. Based on what we have seen in other states, we could see a sharp increases in cases here,” said Dr. Bagdasarian.

And while fortunately, omicron statistically causes fewer hospitalizations, it still results in hospitalizations and death. The risk of serious complications is greater for the elderly, immunocompromised or unvaccinated.

“And unfortunately, in Michigan, we are below the national average for vaccination uptake, so we are already starting with a population that is less vaccinated than other communities around the country,” she said.

Dr. Bagdasarian says the volume of predicted cases in a region where hospitals are already unable to provide care to all in need, are canceling surgeries and referring patients to other locations is life-threatening and evidence shows already claiming lives. Mortality rates for even non-COVID conditions are increasing in the state. Hospitals have already notified the state that they are overwhelmed.

“What that means is people in waiting rooms unable to get a bed in the floor that they need to go to. It means people who should be in the ICU and need to be on ventilators are not able to get those beds because they are not available. It means staffing shortages. Staff in hospitals are getting burned out because the staffing ratios are not where they should be. It is all a result, a direct result of this pandemic. Hospitals are stretched thin. And the only way we can help hospitals continue to help us is by stopping transmission of COVID,” said Dr. Bagdasarian.

She is recommending people use the tools they have to prevent the spread of COVID-19, recommending vaccination, masking, social distancing and testing before attending gatherings.

*Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said Dr. Bagdasarian said modeling based on what has happened in other states indicates we could see a 1000% increase in case rates. When asked about projections she did say she is concerned we could follow the same pattern. However, she clarified after our story aired that there is no "modeling" indicating we will see a 1000% increase in case rates.

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