Coronavirus update: Michigan becomes the worst COVID-19 hot spot

Photo (c) Ahmed Zaggoudi - Getty Images

Some health officials around the world are redefining what ‘fully vaccinated’ means

Coronavirus (COVID-19) ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 47,331,191 (47,233,212)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 766,232 (764,608)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 254,723,729 (254,092,019)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,120,194 (5,111,573)‌

Michigan now the nation’s worst hot spot

Cases of the coronavirus are surging in the northern tier of states along the Canadian border, and Michigan has now emerged at the nation’s number one COVID-19 hot spot. Federal health officials put the seven-day case rate at 503.8 per 100,000 residents. 

That’s putting increased pressure on hospitals around the state, with caseloads climbing by nearly 50% over the last month. There were more than 3,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients at the start of this week.

"The current growth in COVID-19 hospitalizations is very concerning," John Karasinski, a spokesman for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, told the Detroit News.

Definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ may be changing

These days, many places of businesses don’t require patrons to wear masks if they are fully vaccinated. That’s generally taken to mean that they have had two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

But with the increasing number of “breakthrough” cases, the definition of fully vaccinated may be changing to include a booster shot. Countries in Europe, where the virus has undergone a resurgence, are leaning in that direction.

There has been little discussion of that in the U.S. so far. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently considers full protection to include two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, the health agency advises all eligible people to get a booster shot.

Five states expand booster shot eligibility

It’s up to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC to decide who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot. But some states where cases are rising are in open rebellion and are not waiting on government health authorities.

Local health officials in at least five states -- Arkansas, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and West Virginia -- have expanded eligibility for booster shots to everyone 18 and older, six months after their second dose. Current federal eligibility is limited to those 65 and older and other high-risk individuals.

"From a public perception, there are some that really do want the boosters. They are worried about breakthrough transmission," Hemi Tewarson, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, told CNN. "So, I think this is where governors -- at least some governors -- are trying to address the tension here of some in the public who really want to take that extra step even though we don't know yet what all the data tells us."

Around the nation

  • Washington, D.C.: The District of Columbia’s mandate requiring people to wear masks indoors will expire Monday. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city will shift to risk-based guidance from D.C. Health that’s based on current health metrics and a person’s vaccination status.

  • Colorado: State officials have announced that people attending large public indoor events in certain jurisdictions must be vaccinated in an effort to blunt the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. Gatherings of more than 500 people in parts of metro Denver will require attendees to provide proof of vaccination.

  • Alaska: Nearly 100 doctors have signed a letter addressed to the state medical board that asks it to launch an investigation into health care professionals who may be spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. “We are writing out of concern that medical misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine and treatment is being spread in Alaska, including by physicians,” the letter stated.

  • North Carolina: There’s a new variant to worry about, and it’s shown up in North Carolina. State health officials report that North Carolina is one of eight states reporting the presence of the AY42 variant, also known as Delta Plus. So far, they say there’s not much data on the new variant.

  • Missouri: After declining over the early fall, the rate of infection has risen sharply in Missouri. State health officials report that Missouri’s 7-day average for positive tests surged by 30.8% over the last three weeks. The rate was only 6.5% on Oct. 21, but it is now at 8.5%.

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