Michigan Lawmakers Request Biden’s Help as Covid Surges
(Bloomberg) -- Michigan lawmakers wrote President Joe Biden to “urgently request” help in combating a Covid-19 outbreak that’s overwhelming the state’s health system as the administration said it’s sending aid requested by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, and Republican Fred Upton sent a letter Wednesday asking the president to provide further treatments, including Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s antibody therapy, rapid-testing supplies and military medical personnel to support hospitals coping with near-record levels of Covid patients.
Michigan has the highest per capita rate of Covid cases in the U.S., with hospitalizations reaching 4,080 as of Wednesday, approaching a record set in April 2020. Coronavirus patients are overflowing into hospital hallways and conference rooms, while some health workers have been attacked by patients and family members irate over long waits for treatment and strict infection-control measures, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.
“The situation in Michigan is rapidly getting worse and we need all hands on deck and any and all resources you are willing to provide,” Dingell and Upton wrote in the letter. “We are concerned about the impact of the spread of Covid-19 on the state’s ability to effectively address the current public health emergency if current trends continue.”
After a request from Whitmer and the state’s hospital association, the U.S. Defense Department is sending at least 44 medical personnel to hospitals in Michigan next week for 30 days. The teams of nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists will supplement staffs at Beaumont Hospital in suburban Detroit and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, according to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.
The U.S. has already begun approving and sending drugs and tests for delivery to Michigan, and federal officials have consulted with Whitmer on the crisis, according to a senior White House official who asked not to be named. Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, called the governor on Monday and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Rochell Walensky spoke with Michigan’s top health official on Tuesday, the official said. The Department of Health and Human Services has already approved additional allocations of monoclonal antibodies, the offiical said.
Earlier this week, the department sent a team of health workers to help staff a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is deploying the state’s National Guard to help fill gaps in skilled nursing.
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