This afternoon, Grand Rapids Chamber President & CEO Rick Baker joined leaders from our area health systems for an update on the current state of our health facilities, variants, vaccine effectiveness and safety and therapy options.
Our hospitals and our health care workers are overwhelmed in the fight against COVID-19. The three hospitals are near, at, or beyond capacity, meaning there are not enough beds and some procedures cannot take place. On behalf of the greater business community, we want to say THANK YOU to all of those working in health care for your commitment, dedication and sacrifice.
The following graph shows the current number of hospitalizations at Spectrum Health due to COVID-19 (in blue) compared to the two highest peaks they have seen since the pandemic began (in green and red).
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Grand Rapids Chamber has urged our community to take the threats seriously and follow recommended guidelines, while advocating for a response that protects lives and livelihoods.
This includes guidelines we heard all along but are as important as ever:
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Practice social distancing and wear a mask
- Protect the vulnerable and those most at risk
- Protect yourself by staying healthy and getting the vaccine and booster
Doing these things, and getting vaccinated most of all, is the best way to show support for our health care workers and relieve the burden on our hospitals.
“We need to remember these are our friends and neighbors, treating our friends and neighbors,” said Baker. “We may be ready to move on, but COVID has other plans. We are asking our fellow citizens to do their part.”
The chart below indicates COVID vaccinations have clearly provided protection from hospitalization. However, we need to remember the vulnerable population, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, is still susceptible to severe symptoms.
And that is why it is so important to celebrate safely this year. We know what works and we’re imploring everyone to be as safe as possible and to take precautionary measures to protect the vulnerable among us.
We encourage employers to share this information with their employees. We hope they will continue to encourage employees to get vaccinated and get tested before they share an indoor space with those who are vulnerable or at-risk.
To keep the coming holidays happy, we must acknowledge the COVID environment we’re in and take steps to keep everyone safe.
Thank you to Dr. Matt Biersack, President of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, President of Spectrum Health West Michigan, Dr. Peter Hahn, President and CEO of University of Michigan Health-West for their leadership and the critical information they provided today, and to their teams for the lifesaving work they do every day.
If you know a health care worker, please check in with them and say THANK YOU.