As the COVID-19 delta variant surges across the country, Michigan hospitals are urging people to get vaccinated.
In a statement issued by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, hospitals said the delta variant accounts for more than half of the new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and spreads more than twice as fast than the original form of the coronavirus.
A vaccine reduces the risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19 by more than 95 percent and nearly all deaths now occurring from an infection involve unvaccinated persons, the MHA said.
“This means there is increased urgency to vaccinate our communities,” stated the organization.
Getting vaccinated also “substantially reduces the risk of long-haul symptoms from COVID-19,” the association said.
“The vaccines are our best defense against this variant and the likelihood of future variants emerging. The vaccines are essential for us to stop COVID-19 and its future mutations,” the statement read. “We have an opportunity to make a difference in this public health crisis. Together, our actions will serve the public good, save lives and shorten the health and economic impact of the pandemic.”
Michigan’s vaccination rate has largely stalled for several weeks and hospitalization rates have been rising. As of Thursday, 63.9 percent of the state’s population 16 years and older (5.1 million people) had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a state dashboard.
The state wants to get at least 70 percent of the population vaccinated.
Local rates in West Michigan for fully vaccinated people range from 64.2 percent in Kent County, 60.2 percent in Ottawa County and 56.8 percent in Muskegon County to 58.5 percent in Kalamazoo County, 54.2 percent in Berrien County and 51.1 percent in Calhoun County, according to the dashboard.
Through Aug. 3, Michigan had recorded 906,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 19,947 deaths.
“Hospitals and health systems across our great state of Michigan have banded together like never before for more than a year to combat the spread of COVID-19,” the MHA said in today’s statement. “Our health care workers have sacrificed their time, energy and health, all in the pursuit of protecting the communities we serve. Together, we have learned about this disease, how to treat it, and now, how we can prevent it.”
As college students prepare to return to campus in the coming weeks, Grand Valley State University intends to require all students and employees to be vaccinated by Sept. 21. The university plans to host free vaccination clinics on campus during move-in week, Aug. 24-26, and the first week of classes.
GVSU also will require face coverings indoors starting Monday, Aug. 9.
“As I’m sure you are aware, the national picture today for the spread of COVID-19 is dynamic and worrisome,” GVSU President Philomena Mantella wrote in a message today to faculty, staff, students and their parents. “The Centers for Disease Control increasingly reports upward trends in positivity from the variants. It has become clear that in order to successfully manage the shifting conditions of COVID, we need to implement additional safety measures for the fall semester, while continuing to follow local and federal public health guidance. We ask for your attention, understanding, and action.”