Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Jan. 11

MHA Covid-19 update

As of Jan. 14, 11,148,991 individuals in the U.S. have been vaccinated against COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention show Michigan has vaccinated 3,277 people per 100,000 – now second best among the Great Lakes states behind Indiana, and above the national average. As hospitals across Michigan and the nation continue administering the COVID-19 vaccine to select groups, the MHA keeps members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

Important COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Updates

Contrary to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Trump Administration’s announcement that they would be releasing the stock of approximately 38 million vaccines, The Washington Post published an article on Friday citing HHS sources who claim those reserves were put into the market several weeks ago and there is no large reserve at this time. The MHA remains in close contact with state officials who are working to get answers from the federal government as quickly as possible, and promptly issued a media statement calling for HHS to make clear the status of the vaccine stock available and expressing our frustration with this failure in operational management and communication to stakeholders.

As of Thursday, Jan. 14, Michigan as a whole had administered 368,844 vaccines, of the 831,150 allocated to Michigan providers. Michigan hospitals/health systems alone had administered 243,242 vaccines, or 66% of Michigan’s total. Over the last seven days, Michigan is averaging 23,893 doses administered per day.

Vaccine Supply Shortages

The MHA is aware of at least one other state where hospitals are starting to experience needle or syringe shortages because the Pfizer vaccine vials contain an extra, sixth dose, but the supply kits only contain five needles/syringes. The American Hospital Association has advised Operation Warp Speed officials of these shortages and OWS will be increasing the number of needles, syringes, etc. in the supply kits to match the extra available dosage in the vials. The MHA is also inquiring about whether there are any other efficacy/operational considerations related to first and second doses should come from the same production lot. Additionally, it was reported that the shortage in nitrile gloves is expected to persist into calendar year 2022. The shortage has evidently trickled over to the vinyl glove market where price increases are expected for the next several quarters.

COVID-19 Relief Facilities Accepting New Admissions

MDHHS has recently updated the list of approved COVID-19 Relief Facilities that are accepting new admissions from hospitals or other nursing facilities. Hospitals are encouraged to refer to the contact information within the above-mentioned list when pursuing COVID-positive and recovering patient discharges to a skilled nursing facility. The latest list of approved Care and Recovery Centers – also eligible to accept hospital discharges – is available.

Vaccine Communication Tools Available Through MDHHS, AHA

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launched a statewide public relations campaign to improve Michigan residents’ trust in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Hospitals can access and use the campaign assets on their channels.

The American Hospital Association Living Learning Network will host an open house event on COVID-19 Visitation Practices for Hospitals and Health Systems from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST Jan 21. This will provide hospitals and health systems an open platform to pose questions and share their promising practices and creative solutions on specific COVID-19 topics.

Ruling Confirms Legality of MDHHS Orders Supported by the MHA

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray dismissed a case that was brought by a chiropractic practice against Gov. Whitmer and the MDHHS Director Robert Gordon challenging MDHHS’s statewide public health order requiring individuals to wear masks in public spaces to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The MHA submitted a “friend of the court” brief in support of the public mask order to help reduce the strain on the healthcare system, which the Judge referenced in his opinion. In upholding the mask mandate, Judge Murray stated “(T)he statute grants director Gordon authority to “establish procedures to be followed during the epidemic to insure continuation of essential public health services,” which presumably would include a procedure like the mask mandate to allow “essential public health services”—family physicians, hospitals, chiropractors, etc.—to continue operations during the pandemic.”

Members with vaccine questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpageQuestions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).