DETROIT (WXYZ) — The Henry Ford Health System announced on Tuesday it has seen a 60% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations since the end of last month. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says cases are higher now than they were this time last year when we saw government restrictions.
When Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced restrictions in 2020, forcing high schools and colleges to go virtual, casinos to close, and restaurants to offer takeout only, Michigan averaged about 6,381 cases per day. This week, Saturday through Monday, we averaged 7,011 new cases per day.
“It is like radio silence,” said Katie Deck, Michigan Parents Alliance for Safe Schools.
The statewide coalition of Michigan parents says the governor and the state are not doing enough. It called on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to rein in COVID-19, by requiring masks and consistent quarantine practices in schools across the state.
“I don’t know what the issue is. Do we not care? Political reasons?” asked Deck.
“Governor Whitmer was acting under two state statutes in 2020. There was the Emergency Powers of Governor Act and the Emergency Management act. Both of which are no longer available to her for different reasons,” said Wade Fink, attorney.
Attorney Fink says one reason we may not see restrictions like we did last year is the governor doesn’t have the same power she used to. One act would require the GOP-controlled legislatures to approve a time extension, and the other got thrown out in court.
“That was struck down as unconstitutional by Michigan Supreme Court,”
Attorney Fink says the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services still has emergency powers.
“Any statute can be challenged in the courts as being arbitrary, capricious, or being unreasonable or not tailored to some rational interest,” said Fink.
“Someone needs to do something because it is overwhelming our hospitals again,” said Deck.
Seven Action News reported on a press conference held by the Henry Ford Health System Tuesday. Doctors raised concerns about the changes they have seen since the end of last month.
“We have seen about a 60% increase in hospitalizations,” said Dr. Adnan Munkareh, Henry Ford Health’s Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, referring to patients with COVID-19.
While the leaders at Henry Ford Health System voiced concerns Tuesday, they did not have the same message as some hospital leaders shared last year. They are not calling for government restrictions.
“You can debate whether or not there should be a government action, but the reality is as we have seen it really is about getting people to work on the same page to combat this virus,” said Bob Riney, Henry Ford Health’s President of Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer.
“Look, I know 27 people who died of COVID-19 in my own life. I never had a year and a half span like that,” said Lt. Governor Gilchrist.
Gilchrist says while the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services still has power in emergencies, the risk to the overall public has changed. Everyone five and up has access to vaccines.
“At the end of the day, you have to make a choice for yourself. I certainly would rather people be vaccinated than not vaccinated,” said Gilchrist.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services did send out a press release celebrating the state hit a 70% vaccination rate for residents 16 years old and higher. It is a goal that was set when vaccines became available to that age group. It is important to note though that more people can now get vaccinated and the statewide vaccination rate is only 59%.
“This time last year we did not have safe and effective vaccines. Now we have three. That is the biggest, most consequential difference between this year and last year,” said Gilchrist.
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