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COVID hospitalizations surge in Michigan. Doctors remain cautiously optimistic

positive covid test
Michigan COVID cases are increasing as are hospitalizations, but treatment protocols have vastly improved, mitigating the risk of the illness. (Shutterstock)
  • Michigan COVID-19 hospitalizations jump 34 percent to 388 on Wednesday from 289 last Friday
  • The increase in Michigan mirrors a nationwide spike
  • New variants are blamed, but symptoms may be mild and treatments have improved

Sept. 11: New COVID shot clears FDA, may be Michigan-bound later in week

A new wave of COVID-19 infections is sending an increasing number of Michigan residents to the doctor office — and the hospital.

COVID-19 hospitalizations jumped by more than a third Wednesday, with the state reporting 388 COVID-19-positive patients statewide, up from 289 last Friday. The number in intensive care units nearly doubled, from 28 to 50.

The last time there were this many was May 1 when there were 391 confirmed COVID-19 patients.

The increase comes as hospitalizations are rising across much of the country, where they are up 15 percent nationally in the past week.


Statewide, confirmed COVID-19 cases — which are a dramatic undercount because of home testing — have risen 81 percent to 2,528 this week from 1,395 on Aug. 15.


“In the last week we’ve seen quite a bit (of an increase),” said Dr. Beena Nagappala, a Clinton Township family physician who is also president of the Michigan Association of Family Physicians.

Unlike during the initial COVID-19 wave in March 2020 and the delta variant outbreak that fall, Nagappala said the current one is — at least for now — generating mild to moderate symptoms of upper respiratory illness and gastrointestinal problems.

“I hope it’s not as bad as delta; let’s cross our fingers,” she said.


Nagappala said she has not sent anyone to the hospital; she said those who are getting admitted are likely going straight to the emergency department. 

The number of people going to the emergency department with COVID-like symptoms also rose 34 percent from Friday to Wednesday, from 525 to 711, state records show.

The increase is most profound in the six counties of metro Detroit, though other increases have been noted in the Flint-Saginaw-Bay City region and in western Michigan.

John Karasinski, a spokesperson for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, said no hospital has reported that the increase has affected its ability to provide care.

Compared to previous waves, cases remain low. 

At the peak of the omicron-variant wave in January 2022, there were 5,000 COVID-19-positive patients in Michigan hospitals, many of which were struggling to keep their facilities fully staffed because of the high rate of infections.

So far this year, COVID-19 has waned dramatically, with hospitalizations falling to a low of 103 patients on July 7. 

But since then, that number has begun to climb, with the most recent report the biggest jump, spurred by new variants that have begun spreading in Michigan and the country as families return from vacations and students return to K-12 schools and college campuses.


“The issue is that every new strain that gets a foothold is better at infecting people than previous strains,” said Dr. Russell Faust, medical officer for the Oakland County Health Department.

These new strains, including EG.5, are able to evade the immunity that some people have built up from vaccinations and previous infections.

Faust is cautiously optimistic on two counts: the overall hospitalization numbers and low and COVID-19 deaths, now at an all-time low, have not been increasing despite more people requiring hospital care.

That’s a byproduct of hard-earned medical knowledge on treating COVID-19 patients and the addition of new therapies, he said, including monoclonal antibodies and antiviral treatments.

Faust and others recommend that the most vulnerable to COVID-19, the elderly and those with cardiovascular, pulmonary disease, consider wearing a well-fitting mask if in public and avoiding crowds.

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