The current surge of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has continued its downward trend. The seven-day average of hospitalizations in the U.S. as of Feb. 13 was 80,185, down from 136,534 Jan. 20. Michigan hospitalizations for confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 included 1,896 adults and 71 children as of Feb. 16, down from the Jan. 20 totals of 4,554 adults and 130 children.
The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.
Governor Signs Supplemental Budget Dedicating $300 Million to Healthcare Workforce
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Feb. 16 signed House Bill 5523, a $1.2 billion supplemental funding bill that includes $300 million for healthcare providers for recruitment, retention and training purposes, $225 million of which will be specifically for acute-care and behavioral health hospitals. MHA Board Chair and BHSH System President & CEO Tina Freese Decker provided comments of appreciation for the governor signing the bill in the official announcement. (See related article.)
MDHHS Rescinds Indoor Mask Advisory with Exceptions
The statewide indoor masking advisory that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued earlier in the omicron surge was rescinded Feb. 16. However, the state continues to recommend masking in healthcare settings and some other high-risk indoor locations.
While hospitalizations have improved significantly recently, the MHA continues to encourage people to voluntarily wear high-quality masks when in indoor public spaces, especially if they are immunocompromised or haven’t yet been fully vaccinated.
The state also announced that it will monitor and act on COVID-19 cycles in the following three key phases:
- Response — Local and state public health implement rapid response to a surge. The public may be advised to increase masking, testing and social distancing.
- Recovery — Post-surge. No immediate resurgence predicted. Local and state public health will monitor conditions that could lead to future surges.
- Readiness — A surge in cases is expected, with implications for severity of illness and hospital capacity. Increased communication to the public regarding possible new risks.
More Data Sought on Pfizer Vaccine for Children 6 Months through 4 Years
The MHA continues to monitor Pfizer’s actions to seek approval for a vaccine for kids aged 6 months through 4 years. Pfizer recently sought federal approval of the vaccine for this age group, but paused its request days later due to efficacy questions related to dosage. It is now awaiting further data about three doses for this age group before renewing its request for approval under emergency use authorization. The association will keep members apprised of any developments on this or related issues. 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 webpage. Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).