Michigan's latest COVID-19 wave is hitting people in their 30s and 40s especially hard

Nurse in Royal Oaks, Michigan
(Image credit: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tamed in much of the U.S., but not in Michigan. Hospitals are full or filling up across the state, and "unlike previous surges, it now is younger and middle-aged adults — not their parents and grandparents — who are taking up many of Michigan's hospital beds," The New York Times reports. "Michigan hospitals are now admitting about twice as many coronavirus patients in their 30s and 40s as they were during the fall peak, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association."

Michigan has recorded 91,000 new COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, more than California and Texas combined, The Associated Press reports. "Doctors, medical professionals, and public health officials point to a number of factors that explain how the situation has gotten so bad in Michigan," from the high prevalence of the more contagious and deadly B.1.1.7 variant first found in Britain, to widespread abandonment of masks and social distancing — especially in the rural, northern part of the state — after extended lockdowns.

A majority of Michigan residents 65 and older are fully vaccinated, "but the vaccinations of older people do not explain rising hospitalizations among people younger than 60, including those in their 20s and 30s," or the worrisome trend of younger patients "coming in more often with serious cases of COVID-19," the Times reports. "Younger people are among those most likely to be out and about socializing and in the work force," for one thing, and they are just now getting access to the vaccine.

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The new influx of younger patients is taking a toll on hospital workers after a year of brief ebbs and tragic flows. "This third wave has just been very overwhelming, a lot of sick people and a lot of younger sick people," Andrew Chandler, an emergency room tech, tells the Port Huron Times Herald. "We're getting to the point where we're just so beat down," Alexandra Budnik, an intensive care nurse in Royal Oaks, tells The New York Times. "Every time we get a call or every time we hear that there's another 40-year-old that we don't have a circuit for — it's just like, you know, we can't save them all."

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