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Michigan's Record-High COVID Hospitalizations Dip; Situation Still Dire

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan's record-high number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients dipped Wednesday, the first drop in 49 days as health leaders continued to urge vaccinations while describing a dire situation inside hospitals.

The state recorded 330 additional deaths, including 100 in the most recent 48-hour period. The seven-day average of daily deaths, 120 as of Monday, was up substantially from 67 two weeks before, according to Johns Hopkins University. That is similar to levels from a year ago, before vaccines were widely available.

Henry Ford Health System, which has five hospitals in the Detroit area and Jackson, on Wednesday reported roughly 500 coronavirus patients, a 34% increase over the past month.

"We are in crisis. There's no way around it. There's no way to sugarcoat it," said Bob Riney, president of health care operations and chief operating officer. The hospitals are not built to operate at close to 100% capacity for months, he said.

The number of adults in hospitals with confirmed infections statewide, 4,361, fell from 4,518 two days earlier. It was the first decline since Oct. 27. The portion of tests coming back positive in Michigan has exceeded 15% for a record 39 consecutive days.

The state health department again urged residents to be vaccinated and those who are fully vaccinated to get a booster shot if eligible. For the last 30 days of complete data, Oct. 19 to Nov. 19, 72% of hospitalized patients and 76% of deaths were among people not fully vaccinated.

"We have the tool to get out of the pandemic, but people are choosing not to use it and are continuing to spread a virus that we have the capability to manage at this point," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the state's chief medical executive. "Vaccines are our best defense against the virus, along with continuing to wear masks in indoor public settings and getting tested before any unmasked gatherings."

The agency confirmed two additional cases of the more contagious omicron variant, in Genesee County, bringing the total to three in Michigan. The delta variant has been surging in the state for months.

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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