Ontario tightens pandemic restrictions, could Michigan be next?

Posted at 9:56 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 23:25:05-05

(WXYZ) — From Farmington Hills to Sterling Heights, hundreds of cars waited in massive lines Monday to simply get a COVID test.

At the former Sears Automotive site in Lakeside Mall, the wait for some people stretched up to four hours. These test sites and local hospitals are overwhelmed.

"This is really unprecedented, to be honest with you," said Dr. Zafar Shamoon, Chief of Emergency Services at Dearborn Beaumont. "I’ve been doing this for 18 years now and I've never seen anything like this.”

Dr. Shamoon is says staffing shortages, along with the increase in COVID and non-COVID patients has created a perfect storm.

“People always want me to compare it to last year, and this year is much worse honestly,” Dr. Shamoon said.

Right now the hospital has over 100 COVID patients and longer waits in the ER, however Dr. Shamoon says they are still able to prioritize and handle serious emergencies.

The Department of Defense has crews on-site through the end of the month to help with the surge, which right now shows no signs of slowing down.

“I'm confident this will pass," Dr. Shamoon said. "It’s just a matter of, we need the help of the public to do so.”

Just a few miles from Dearborn in bordering Ontario, the Province announced it will temporarily shut down all schools, cinemas, gyms, and indoor dining while limiting indoor gatherings to just 5 people. The Premier warned that hospitals could be short thousands of beds in the coming weeks, as omicron spreads.

"With a variant as infectious as omicron with spreads like nothing we have seen before, adding capacity isn’t enough,” Premier of Ontario Doug Ford said during a Monday news conference. "The immediate goal of these measures will be to blunt the latest wave so we can ease the pressure on our hospitals.”

Starting Monday the City of Chicago implemented a vaccine requirement for all at restaurants, gyms, and other indoor businesses.

Dr. Shamoon says the vaccine is helping hospitals, by keeping COVID patients at home.

“The ones that we are seeing that are very sick, the ones that require ICU admission are almost all unvaccinated,” Dr. Shamoon said.

As for whether we can expect similar mandates or restrictions back home, Governor Whitmer's office said that won't be the case.

In a statement, spokesperson Robert Leddy said

“We continue to monitor the trends in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths after an increase in travel around the holidays. Since the safe and effective vaccines have become available, there are no plans for any restrictions. To help bring down the numbers, we are working with top medical experts and health professionals at the state and federal level to increase access to testing, secure additional lifesaving treatments like monoclonal antibodies and new Pfizer pill, and continuing to encourage every Michigander to get vaccinated and wear a secure mask. It’s on each of us to take the individual responsibility and precautions necessary to protect ourselves and loved ones and help us beat this uptick.”

Dr. Shamoon says if people stay home when feeling sick, get vaccinated, and wear masks in public, then Michigan hospitals will make it through.

“If we can do that, I think we’ll be OK and I think we can continue on with our daily activities, with caution,” Dr. Shamoon said.

Dr. Shamoon also urges the public to go to an urgent care or pharmacy, not the ER, to get a COVID test.