Covid-hit Michigan getting out of state help

Michigan getting out of state help to cope with Covid surge, including among Arab-American communities
3 min read
Washington, D.C.
30 November, 2021
Covid-stricken Michigan has enlisted help from medical personnel from outside the state to support staff at hospitals, including in Dearborn, home to America's highest concentration of Arabs and Muslims.
The state of Michigan, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the US, is now experiencing the highest rate of new Covid-19 infections in the country [Getty]

The US state of Michigan has requested help from doctors and nurses from outside the state as it struggles with a surge in Covid-19 cases.

With his state currently experiencing the highest rate of Covid infections in the entire US, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer requested additional staffing help at the state’s hospitals. The federal government has granted the assistance.

"I'm grateful that the federal government has granted our request to provide much-needed relief to the health care personnel who have remained on the frontlines of this pandemic," Whitmer said, according to a report last week by local news outlet Click Detroit.

The out-of-state medical staff, which includes respiratory specialists, are lending their support to hospitals in Dearborn and Grand Rapids for the next 30 days, according to the outlet. Dearborn is home to the highest concentration of Arabs and Muslims in the United States.

With hospitals across the state are close to capacity, Michigan has also requested that federal Veterans Affairs hospitals open their beds to civilians, the report added.

The current Covid surge comes as no surprise to Ali Abazeed, a public health advisor for the Department of Health and Human Services. Originally from Dearborn, he has been following Michigan's high rate of Covid infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

"The surge is entirely expected," Abazeed told The New Arab. "People are spending more time inside, and the two-dose vaccine might be waning."

He points out that while the United States is around 60 percent fully vaccinated, Michigan’s rate is around 55 percent, placing it in the bottom half of states in terms of vaccination rates.

Both the national and state rates are far short of 70 percent - the vaccination level that health experts have estimated will bring herd immunity against the virus.

Dense living conditions and poverty seen in parts of Michigan play important roles in transmission, Abazeed said, as does vaccine hesitancy, prevalent among communities of colour including Arabs.

"If you're vaccinated, you're well protected," he said, noting that the vaccine lessens the risk of complications and deaths.

Whitmer urged Michigan residents to get the vaccine.

"Right now, our doctors and nurses are reporting the vast majority of their patients are unvaccinated or have not yet received a booster dose. We can all do our part to help reduce the strain on our hospital systems by getting vaccinated, making an appointment to get a booster dose, and continuing to take precautions to keep ourselves and loved ones safe," Click Detroit reported Whitmer as saying.