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Michigan Covid-19 surge sign of what’s to come in US in coming weeks: Experts

In this March 25 photo, diners eat in isolated dining rooms outside the Townhouse restaurant, in Birmingham, Michigan. (Photo by AP)

Notwithstanding the much-hyped vaccine rollout, fresh cases of Covid-19 and related hospitalizations are alarmingly surging in the US, primarily among the younger people.

Reports in the US media, quoting experts, warn that it could be the start of what is to come in coming weeks, as pandemic situation keeps deteriorating in Michigan and other states.

Michigan, which has reported 820 thousand cases and close to 18 thousand deaths from the cataclysmic virus so far, is presently in the middle of a violent surge, experts say.

The situation in Michigan, they warn, should be a wake-up call for other states where the new virus variant has gained firm foothold.

“We're bursting at the seams,” a nurse at McLaren Hospital Jeff Morowski told a US news portal. “We're overwhelmed with patients. Our ER is holding patients every day.”

Hospitals in Michigan are reportedly seeing the highest number of patients since the outbreak last year.

A report in CNN, quoting an epidemiologist, said the B.1.1.7 variant, which is spreading across the country, is causing the surge in Michigan, mostly infecting younger people.

“Michigan is really the bellwether for what it looks like when the B.1.1.7 variant spreads in the United States,” said Dr. Celine Gounder. “It's causing a surge in cases and it's causing more severe disease, which means that even younger people, people in their 30s, 40s and 50s are getting very sick and being hospitalized from this.”

The coronavirus variant, which was first spotted in the UK, is now the dominant strain of the virus in the US, according to experts, who describe it as a “more contagious” virus that may potentially lead to more severe disease and more fatalities.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of Florida has the highest number of cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, followed by Michigan, Minnesota and Massachusetts.

The rapid surge in cases in Michigan, according to Gounder, is mainly the result of two factors: the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant combined with people relaxing on mitigation measures before enough residents are vaccinated.

In recent days, Michigan has started reporting thousands of new Covid-19 cases on a daily basis, with some hospitals recording four-fold increase in hospitalizations in just two weeks.

“Think about it this way: Every year during fire season, when forest fires get out of control, we don't just leave the states to manage as best they can. We surge firefighting forces into those states. So Michigan is on fire now. And we need to put that out,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor at George Washington University, was quoted by CNN.

While the situation is disquieting in Michigan, other states aren’t faring any better. Health officials in Minnesota have warned that the state is seeing “sharp increase” in new virus cases, calling for stringent measures to contain its spread.

In Ohio, officials have reported mounting Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions, urging residents to get vaccinated in order to prevent another potentially more devastating wave.

B.1.1.7 is now officially the most common variant of the coronavirus in the US -- to the surprise of no evolutionary biologists, but apparently unexpected to all political leaders
by @SherylNYT

— Apoorva Mandavilli (@apoorva_nyc) April 7, 2021

Situation is equally alarming in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states with officials and experts expressing concern over consistently high Covid-19 case numbers, warning of tough days ahead.

Meanwhile, according to US media, American prisons, jails and detention centers have been among the nation’s most dangerous places during the pandemic.

Over the past year, more than 1,400 new inmate infections and seven deaths, on average, have been reported inside these cramped and unsanitary facilities each day.

The virus has reportedly killed prisoners at higher rates than the general population, New York Times data shows, and at least 2,700 people have died in custody, where access to quality health care is poor.

US has so far reported 31.1 million cases of the virus beside over 562 thousands fatalities, making it the worst-hit country in the world.

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