Michigan hospitals publish letter urging extension on COVID-19 restrictions

Michigan's hospitals and chief medical officers say the state needs an extension on lockdown measures put in place three weeks ago to better mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19's spread in Michigan is "slowly stabilizing" around the state, but with an unknown impact of Thanksgiving, the governor should keep business and school restrictions in place "through the holiday season."

"We still don't know what impact Thanksgiving will have, but we do know that with the recent pause, we’re seeing some slight improvements. As a state, we must not let our guard down and reverse this progress," read a joint letter from Michigan hospitals and health care systems.

Medical staff members check on intravenous drip for a patient suffering from coronavirus in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at United Memorial Medical Center on Nov. 16, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

Whitmer closed indoor dining, restricted in-person learning in high schools, and shut down organized sports below the college level due to a spiking rate of COVID-19 cases in the state.

November reported the highest number of new coronavirus cases since the virus was first spotted in Michigan in March. So far, almost 400,000 people have tested positive, a benchmark that's likely to be broken on Monday or Tuesday.

While better treatments and therapies, as well as the prospect of a vaccine, have alleviated some concerns, the state's hospital infrastructure is dangerously close to capacity. 

The availability of beds, PPE, and staff have placed an unprecedented amount of pressure on health care systems. As test positivity rates exponentially increased ahead of one of the most-traveled holidays of the year, Whitmer implemented a three-week partial closure of state to help mitigate what was expected to be a rough winter for residents.

The order is expected to end tomorrow, but Whitmer hasn't indicated if she will lift the restrictions. The Michigan Hospital Association hopes she won't.

"Today, our hospitals continue to face critical healthcare worker staffing shortages and troubling bed capacity numbers. Our teams on the front lines are exhausted as this second surge continues; we never truly recovered from the first. Now, data is indicating slight declines in COVID-19 emergency department visits, daily admissions, and total hospitalizations. As physicians, we’re telling you: these measures are working."