As reported by CNN, some Michigan hospitals are again choosing to delay non-urgent procedures as both cases and hospitalization rates for COVID-19 continue to rise. Social distancing guidelines were reset in Michigan on March 2, and the state had already encountered major opposition (up to and including a plot to kidnap and execute Governor Gretchen Witmer). All of this turned out to be bad timing as the rapidly spreading variant B.1.1.7 was only just beginning to spread in the region.
Michigan has seen sustained spikes in cases where the 7-day average was above 7,600. That rate is actually higher than what the state saw at the height of Thanksgiving – Christmas spikes that occurred nationwide. And, as is inevitable, the new surge in cases is now being followed by an increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
Bringing the spike under control in cases requires not only medical intervention but also political courage. Governor Whitmer hasn’t issued a spate of new executive orders, but has urged high schools to voluntarily suspend face-to-face tuition and reminded the state that a state health department mask mandate remains in place. In a press conference on Friday, Whitmer made it clear that tighter restrictions and better compliance are needed.
“If we look closely at the data and watch the variance spread,” said Whitmer, “we all have to go beyond the rules we already have. We all have to improve our game for the next one.” two weeks to eliminate rising cases. “
The reasons for focusing on high schools lie in increasing evidence that regardless of the initial spread of COVID-19, children play an important role in variant B.1.1.7. Studies in the British medical journal The Lancet and reports from the University of Minnesota show that as this variant spreads, not only will more children and younger adults be infected, but more of them will become seriously ill. The total number of patients who become critical has not changed, but the people who are hospitalized are younger now.
Talking about NBC’s Meet the Press, Dr. Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota made it clear that concerns about children and the variety that is now prevalent are real. “Please understand that this B.1.1.7 variant is a brand new ball game,” said Osterholm. “It infects children very easily.”
Findings so far suggest that children still do not transmit the virus as quickly as adults because they carry a lower viral load. However, variant B.1.1.7 has spread rapidly both in some schools and in day-care centers.
As reported by ABC 12 in Flint, this also applies to Michigan.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s senior medical director, said young people are seeing the biggest increases in the spread of COVID-19. The 10-19 age group saw the largest increase last month, before the 20-29 and 30-39 age groups also saw the disease spread more rapidly.
A vector for the new variant seen in several states: Youth Sports Activities. As CNN reported Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has taken note of particular accumulations of cases in connection with youth sport. This has prompted the CDC to reissue guidelines suggesting limits to adolescent sports activities.
What makes it extremely frustrating that because of the Republican majority in Michigan state lawmakers and others working to undercut Whitmer, the new “restrictions” are not mandates but recommendations. Instead, the Republican spokesman for Michigan House said Whitmer should lift any remaining restrictions and simply “trust that the people of this state are doing what’s right for themselves and their families.” Because it works so well.
The Detroit Free Press reported that Michigan High School Athletic Association executive director Mark Uyl followed Whitmer’s speech and announced that he “has no plans to stop any schedules.” The games will go on … because the games go on.