TRAVERSE CITY — Health workers are now treating or keeping tabs on at least 20 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 in northwest Lower Michigan, while hospital beds remain available locally for those expected to fall ill.
Officials said there are unused isolation rooms available and prepped for patients at Munson Healthcare facilities, spread across its three designated COVID-19 treatment hospitals in Traverse City, Cadillac and Grayling.
A few beds are occupied by patients awaiting test results, said Dianne Michalek, Munson’s vice-president of marketing and communications.
Otherwise, space remains available for expected COVID-19 patients. Though, some hospital beds are occupied by others, such as surgical or heart patients, Michalek said.
“Right now our bed capacity is good. We are not currently experiencing the same surge the downstate hospitals are seeing,” she said.
“What we are preparing for is what could be coming.”
Munson Medical Center in Traverse City has 54 negative isolation rooms which provide special airflow pressure to prevent cross-contamination, as well as 29 adult ventilators and six infant ventilators, as previously reported by the Record-Eagle.
Across the entire Munson Healthcare system, there are 81 ventilators and 89 negative pressure isolation rooms, Michalek said.
Additionally, the large medical care system has 1,179 beds available among its seven owned and two affiliated hospitals — Traverse City, Cadillac, Charlevoix, Frankfort, Gaylord, Grayling, Kalkaska, Manistee and St. Ignace.
Information about currently available bed capacity at McLaren Northern Michigan hospital in Petoskey was not available by the Record-Eagle’s deadline Wednesday.
The Petoskey hospital has 202 beds, among which are eight special isolation rooms with negative pressure ventilation, as previously reported. The hospital also is able to expand the number of isolation rooms to entire floors on their own isolated ventilation system.
Hospitals across the state braced Wednesday for a surge of coronavirus cases, as the number of cases in Michigan rose to nearly 2,300 and the number of deaths spiked from 24 to 43.
In northwest Lower Michigan, the cases identified so far are in the following counties: Otsego 6, Charlevoix 4, Grand Traverse 3, Emmet 2, Kalkaska 2 and 1 each in Leelanau, Manistee and Wexford.
Eighty-five percent of all Michigan’s cases were reported in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, but more than half of the state’s 83 counties are now affected by the pandemic. That includes Marquette and Chippewa counties in the Upper Peninsula.
Beaumont Health and Henry Ford Health System in southeastern Michigan said they were caring for more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients at their 13 hospitals. Operating rooms were being converted into intensive care units and clinics had been turned into rooms for patients needing other medical care.
“The numbers are changing and increasing even in two-hour intervals,” said Bob Riney, chief operating officer at Henry Ford, whose flagship hospital is in Detroit.
Dr. Betty Chu, of Henry Ford, predicted an “upcoming surge.”
Beaumont chief executive John Fox called on the state to invoke its power to balance care across eight regions in the state.
“We can’t have people drive by a hospital that may have 10 percent in capacity ... for ventilators or other things COVID patients need and then pull up into an ER of a hospital that’s supersaturated,” Fox said.
Oakland County Executive David Coulter said the county was working with the National Guard to potentially set up a mobile hospital and talking to hotels, conference centers and colleges about housing infected people. Patients could include those who may need to be isolated and quarantined but not hospitalized.
“We’re going to prepare for a worst-case scenario because that could happen sooner rather than later,” he said.
Oakland County statistics show 543 positive cases and 10 deaths through Wednesday, the second most in Michigan. Only the City of Detroit has more of both — 705 positive cases and 12 deaths.
Whitmer barred employers from requiring workers to leave their homes unless necessary to protect life or conduct minimum basic operations during the pandemic. There are exceptions, including grocery stores, banks, gas stations and restaurants offering carry-out or food for delivery.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.