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Michigan reports record-breaking number of children hospitalized with UK COVID-19 variant

A record-breaking number of children have been hospitalized this week with COVID-19 in Michigan as the state struggles with a spike in the virus.

Statewide, 70 children were hospitalized between Monday and Thursday with either confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

Officials are blaming the surge in hospitalizations on the UK coronavirus variant, also known as B.1.1.7, which is more transmissible and appears to spread faster among young people. 

It isn’t clear why the variant has taken such strong hold in Michigan. 

Health experts said most children who have been hospitalized are likely to survive. 

‘The vast majority will recover because we have learned a lot during this pandemic on how to manage these kids,’ Dr Bishara Freij told NBC News.  

A record-breaking number of children have been hospitalized this week with COVID-19 in Michigan, data shows. Emergency room nurses are seen in Michigan 

Statewide, 70 children were hospitalized this week with either confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. Michelle Elkhoury's daughters Juliana (center) was among the children who suffered severely from complications of COVID-19

Statewide, 70 children were hospitalized this week with either confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. Michelle Elkhoury’s daughters Juliana (center) was among the children who suffered severely from complications of COVID-19 

About 10 children or teens have died from the disease in Michigan since the pandemic hit the US last year. 

In some Michigan hospitals, children have suffered multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare and dangerous complication from the coronavirus. 

Michelle Elkhoury said her daughter suffered from the complication. 

She told NBC that her four-year-old daughter, Juliana, spent nearly a week at Beaumont Children’s in March after the inflammatory syndrome attacked her organs. 

‘It was probably the worst week of our lives as parents. We were in the hospital and we didn’t know what was going to happen,’ Elkhoury told the news outlet. 

Juliana is said to have developed a high fever, bloodshot eyes and a rash. 

Michigan’s daily case rate has led the US for weeks. Nearly 9,000 cases and 40 deaths were added last Friday.

But on Wednesday, the state’s seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases had fallen by more than 1,200 in a week, a sign that the outbreak may be subsiding in the state.

More than 2.6 million people in Michigan have been vaccinated, but more than a quarter of the state's vaccine supply was still unused as of Thursday morning

More than 2.6 million people in Michigan have been vaccinated, but more than a quarter of the state’s vaccine supply was still unused as of Thursday morning 

The increase in the share of Michigan's population that initiated vaccination (gray) as of last week was 83 per cent smaller than the increase seen the previous week, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Michigan health department data

The increase in the share of Michigan’s population that initiated vaccination (gray) as of last week was 83 per cent smaller than the increase seen the previous week, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Michigan health department data 

The state health department reported nearly 5,600 cases and 45 deaths in the most recent 24-hour period. That brought the seven-day case average to 5,742 — down from the third surge’s peak of around 7,000 on April 13.

The seven-day average of tests coming back positive, 13.4 per cent, was down from 15.5 per cent a week before.

About 46 per cent of residents ages 16 and older have gotten at least one vaccine dose, including 31 per cent who are fully vaccinated. That equates to more than 2.6 million Michigan residents being vaccinated. 

Earlier this week Michigan Gov Gretchen Whitmer also confirmed that her state could be seeing a drop in infections.

Whitmer has extended a pandemic order that limits business capacity and requires masks in public, but the Democrat has avoided further restrictions in place during previous surges, including suspending indoor restaurant dining.

Whitmer has urged a voluntary pause on activities like dining out and pushed for more vaccinations from the White House, which has said it would help with other logistics but continue allocating based on population.  

In Michigan, more than 18,100 people have died with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases. Nearly 900,000 confirmed or probable infections have been reported. 

More than 31.9 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in the US since the start of the pandemic last year

More than 31.9 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in the US since the start of the pandemic last year 

Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations among older Americans have plunged more than 70 per cent since the start of the year, and deaths among them appear to have tumbled as well, dramatic evidence the vaccination campaign is working.

Now the trick is to get more of the nation’s younger people to roll up their sleeves.

The drop-off in severe cases among Americans 65 and older is especially encouraging because senior citizens have accounted for about 8 out of 10 deaths from the virus since it hit the US, where the toll stands at about 570,000

COVID-19 deaths among people of all ages in the US have plummeted to about 700 per day on average, compared with a peak of over 3,400 in mid-January.

‘What you’re seeing there is exactly what we hoped and wanted to see: As really high rates of vaccinations happen, hospitalizations and death rates come down,’ said Jodie Guest, a public health researcher at Emory University.

The best available data suggests COVID-19 deaths among Americans 65 and older have declined more than 50 per cent since their peak in January. The picture is not entirely clear because the most recent data on deaths by age from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is incomplete and subject to revision. 

But the US faces challenges in conducting mass vaccinations because of its far greater size, diversity, geography and health disparities.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced new federal funding for small businesses so that employees can take time off with pay to get vaccinated or recover from the shot’s side effects.

The challenge will be quickly vaccinating younger Americans, who feel they are less vulnerable to the coronavirus but are mainly the ones spreading the disease.


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