SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (FOX 2) - As the summer draws to a close in Michigan and schools look to resume later this month, the director of infection prevention at Beaumont Health System Grosse Pointe says everyone should return to universal mask-wearing and that the state is on the edge of a "disaster".
Dr. Joel Fishbain is the Medical Director for Infection Prevention at Beaumont Hospital Grosse Pointe. He spoke on Monday about the rise in COVID-19 cases across the United States and Michigan. Citing CDC data, the state's cases are relatively low for now but southeast Michigan is creeping up. He did not hide his concern for the future if the trend continues.
"This could be another disaster for Michigan if this continues to increase," Dr. Fishbain said.
As of Monday morning, Beaumont reports it has 64 people throughout the hospital group hospitalized with Covid and, of those, three had received the vaccine.
Dr. Fishbain said the hospital's overall network shows that 0.06% of the people within the health group who had received a Covid vaccine have tested positive. That is not reflective of the number of people who are currently hospitalized and whether they received the vaccine or not, he said.
In Michigan, 294 adults were hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19. On July 7, the state of Michigan reported 1.8% of those tested for COVID-19 were positive. By the end of the month, that number had climbed to 4.1% as the state's confirmed cases rose for the first time after three months of declines.
Dr. Fishbain reminds everyone who is unvaccinated to get the vaccine as it is more likely to prevent serious illness. He reminded everyone that the vaccines are not 100% effective but make it significantly less likely for someone to get seriously ill.
Last week, the CDC changed its guidance regarding masks for everyone, even those vaccinated against COVID-19. Dr. Fishbain said the change was made following a study out of Massachusetts where 469 COVID-19 cases were identified in one county and that 346 (74%) occurred in people who were fully vaccinated. Additionally, testing identified the delta variant in 90% of specimens from 133 patients.
The concern, Dr. Fishbain notes, is that while those who have the vaccine are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID, they may still be carrying the virus or the Delta variant, which is 225 times more likely to be spread.
"The vaccine used to be 80-90% effective at preventing (breakthrough cases with asymptomatic symptoms) but the Massachusetts article would suggest otherwise - with the Delta variant," he said.
As we approach a season of change where kids are returning to school and cooler weather will force people inside and will likely lead to indoor congregation, Dr. Fishbain said that a potential disaster could be coming.
"I think the potential exists for a huge disaster and whether you want to call it surge 4, surge 5 - I've sort of lost count. If you have a large group of individuals who have not had Covid and did not know they had Covid and they are susceptible and put them in a situation that allows the delta variant to be transmissible, you can have another explosion of cases," he said.
Dr. Fishbain said Beaumont Health is recommending everyone returning to wearing a mask whenever indoors. He said that he took his off when the CDC said it was no longer necessary for people who had been vaccinated and is now putting it back on, following the latest CDC recommendations.
While Dr. Fishbain said he's not as concerned about vaccinated people getting sick, it's more concerning that they spread it to unvaccinated individuals.
He did offer some insight into how the vaccine was developed saying that science has never moved this fast but it was done "well and quickly" and it appears to be a safe vaccine.
Dr. Fishbain said he understands that people don't know the long-term data of the vaccine but says we can't afford to wait 2, 3, 4, or 5 years to see the long-term data.
The only people who shouldn't get the vaccine, he says, are those who are allergic to any of its ingredients.