MARQUETTE – Dr. Bob Lorinser, medical director of the Marquette County health department, discussed what he called “Critical concerns” in a Friday memo to the media and medical providers.
Up to 75% of COVID-19 transmission occurs before symptoms appear, he said, and vaccination “Markedly” reduces the chance that a person will be infected and transmit COVID. In addition, he noted that a significant portion of hospital patients receive their first diagnosis of COVID upon admission.
“This highlights the lack of readily available and accepted tests and the missed opportunity to avoid hospitalization and transmission to others,” Lorinser wrote. He said testing should be readily available and free, including over-the-counter testing.
Lorinser also said that monoclonal antibodies, if given to high-risk patients soon after being diagnosed, lower their risk of hospitalization and death by about 70% to 80% of their risk. basic.
Lorinser suggests people get vaccinated.
“There should be no reason to wait longer than two days if you are trying to get the vaccine, whether from your local pharmacy, health care provider, or health department.” he said. âCurrently, I hear weeks of waiting. This is unacceptable.”
Lorinser suggested that individuals self-isolate if they are positive, inform their contacts to get tested, and, if they are at high risk of hospitalization, contact their doctors and consider treatment with antibodies. monoclonal.
âI support a free and readily available COVID and Flu center within our community that can provide testing, medical assessment, education, vaccinations and treatment with monoclonal antibodies for COVID, open seven days a week in one location. permanently accessible with opening hours to respond to requests as long as this is justified â, Lorinser said. âWe are exploring this with our community partners to see if this is possible. “
Aspirus hospitals see an increase
Hospitals and health systems across the region are experiencing high patient volumes and capacity issues during the current COVID-19 outbreak. Across the Aspirus healthcare system – which includes 17 hospitals in Portage, Wisconsin, in Laurium – patient volumes across all care settings are high, Aspirus Health said Friday.
As of Friday, 135 COVID-positive patients occupied 26% of Aspirus hospital beds. The seven-day average of COVID-19 positive hospital patients across Aspirus fell from 103 to 131 on November 22. The weekly positivity rate among COVID-19 tests treated with Aspirus also rose to over 22%.
This high level of COVID-19 activity in the region is testing health systems and their ability to meet the non-COVID needs of communities as well, Aspirus said.
“We did not have to refuse patients”, Jeff Wicklander, senior vice president of Aspirus and president of Aspirus Wausau Hospital, said in a statement. âHowever, patients have to wait. Overall, our capacity is over 95%. When we look at our intensive care, we are almost at full capacity, if not at full capacity, several days a week. “
Aspirus leverages its system wherever possible to provide the right level of care for each patient, he said. This includes transferring within his system to keep patients local; the transfer of resources and personnel between departments and facilities; and using its home care division to keep people out of the hospital.
“The good news is that we have a very complete system”, said Wicklander. âThe tricky part is we’re very, very busy. We focused on monoclonal antibody therapy, which has been shown to be very effective. We have treated over 2,000 patients with approximately 50 lives saved as a result of this treatment.
Aspirus officials stressed that there are things everyone can do to help local hospitals throughout the pandemic, the most important of which is getting vaccinated, noting that the vaccines are safe and reduce considerably the risk of infection and serious illness. Area residents are also encouraged to choose the care setting appropriate to their health needs and to reserve emergency rooms for the most critical and urgent cases.
Food aid available
Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced on Monday the launch of the MI Benefits Center, whose goal is to help Michiganders apply for much-needed food assistance.
âMy top priority every day is making life easier for Michigan families by making changes that make a difference in their lives, and the MI Benefits Center is the latest innovation to help us lower food costs for Michigan families. “ Whitmer said in a statement. “By providing additional relief to Michigan families on their grocery bills, we can ease the financial burden on Michigan residents, lower costs and put more money in people’s pockets, putting Michigan first.” . “
The MI Benefits Center will have a team of highly trained employee benefits specialists who will provide personalized assistance with applications over the phone to remove barriers that prevent some Michiganders from accessing essential food assistance for their health, the office said. governor. MDHHS partners with Benefits Data Trust, which focuses on improving access to public assistance programs by conducting data-driven application awareness and support activities, as well as providing support policy to states at the national level.
With funding from the US Department of Agriculture and philanthropic organizations, the MI Benefits Center will invest up to $ 1.2 million next year to support the Michiganders. The projections are that outreach specialists will help process 5,000 successful requests for food assistance through the Federal Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program, which will translate into roughly $ 1.1 million per month – or $ 13.2 million per year – in additional direct benefits for families and $ 1.7 million in monthly economic stimulus for the state.
Recently, the MI Benefits Center has started sending letters to seniors and others who may be eligible for food assistance benefits but who are not enrolled in the program. The letters will direct individuals to call a toll-free number for free assistance or to apply directly at www.michigan.gov/MIBridges.
The phone number is only for people who receive letters from the MI Benefits Center. Michigan residents who do not receive a letter can apply for food aid and other government assistance benefits at www.michigan.gov/MIBridges.
Recommended flu shots
The MDHHS and the Department of Insurance and Financial Services are reminding Michiganders to get the flu shot as soon as possible to protect themselves and their communities from the flu, especially while continuing to fight COVID-19. Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.
Influenza activity during the 2020-21 season was very low, likely due to COVID-19 prevention measures – and it’s important to get the flu shot every year, officials said Monday. With the start of the holiday season, they said health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are particularly concerned about the impact that reduced immunity could have on people who are already at a higher risk of developing. serious complications from the flu, including those with certain chronic illnesses. like asthma, heart disease and diabetes.
Getting the flu shot reduces the risk of serious flu complications, they said.
“Everyone aged 6 months and over is recommended to get the flu shot and make a difference – doing your part helps keep your friends, family and neighbors safe.” MDHHS medical director Dr Natasha Bagdasarian said in a statement. âThere is an adequate supply of flu shots available in many convenient locations, from primary care providers to local pharmacies. We know these vaccines are safe and protect vulnerable Michiganders. “
While it’s ideal to get the flu shot before the flu begins to spread in your community, getting the flu shot later is still beneficial during most seasons. The flu most often peaks in February and significant activity can continue until May, so there is still time to get the vaccine if it hasn’t already, officials said.
They urge that during National Flu Vaccine Week, which is observed from December 5 to 11, people should visit their doctor or local pharmacy to get their flu shot, encourage loved ones to get the flu shot. flu and learn more about the benefits of getting a flu shot. vaccinated against the flu.
DIFS also reminds Michiganders that flu shots are an essential health benefit under the Affordable Care Act and are covered at no additional cost by most Michigan health plans. Consumers who have questions about their coverage should contact their insurance company, and if they cannot get the information they need or have additional questions, they can contact DIFS for 8am assistance. at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-999-6442, or visit Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance.