Whitmer, Duggan Respond to COVID-19 Surge

Michigan is leading the nation as COVID-19 cases increase and the positivity rates spike across the Detroit metro area with numbers growing in the city of Detroit and counties in the state.

COVID-19 cases in Detroit have increased seven-fold in the past 30 days, Mayor Mike Duggan said at a news briefing Wednesday, April 14.

Positive rates by county (and the city of Detroit):

  • Detroit – 21%
  • Wayne County – 19%
  • Oakland County 16%
  • Macomb County – 24%
  • St. Clair County – 29%
  • Lapeer County – 28%

A City on a Mission

The City of Detroit is responding and Duggan said that the city is continuing to bring COVID-19 vaccinations to neighborhoods to reach Detroiters where they live.

On April 15, the Detroit Health Department is offering vaccines at Breithaupt Career Center and the Islamic Center of Detroit and April 16 at East English Village Preparatory Academy. The sites are operating in partnership with the Detroit Public Schools Community District and the Islamic Center of Detroit, according to a press release.

Also, vaccines are provided at the TCF Center and Northwest Activities Center during the week and this Saturday, April 17 at three churches. For an appointment at any of these locations, call (313) 230-0505. Residents can now send a text to (313) 217-3732 and find three locations providing COVID-19 vaccines close to their home.

Despite these vaccination efforts, only about 128,000 Detroit residents have been vaccinated — Detroit still trails behind other surrounding communities and the state of Michigan, the press release added.

The Detroit Health Department (DHD) is also on hand to answer residents’ questions about COVID-19 vaccines at 6 p.m. April 15 during a Southwest Town Hall. Call (855) 756-7520 ext. 73101# for more information. If you miss a town hall call the DHD at (313) 876-4000.

New Ways to Combat COVID

On Wednesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun also provided an update to the state on COVID-19 cases, vaccines and variants and discussed the state’s efforts to expand the use of monoclonal antibody therapy to help those diagnosed with COVID-19 avoid hospitalization, according to a press release.

Whitmer praised progress on vaccinations and urged Michiganders to keep doing their part by wearing masks, washing their hands, social distancing, and getting vaccinated. Whitmer stressed there are still public health laws in place to mitigate the spread of COVID including a mask mandate, capacity limits on indoor gatherings, and mandatory testing for sports.

She also shared information about the use of Regeneron and Eli Lilly monoclonal antibody treatments. These treatments have been authorized for emergency use by the FDA and can be effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths for those diagnosed with COVID-19. The state is ensuring providers across the state have the supplies they need to effectively treat Michiganders.

“We are using every mitigation strategy, every medication, and every treatment option to fight the virus here in Michigan,” said Whitmer. “These antibody treatments could keep you out of the hospital and save your life, and my administration and I will continue working with the federal government to make sure we are using all the tools in our toolbox to keep you and your family safe and get back to normal sooner.”

Monoclonal antibodies (mAb) are laboratory-produced molecules that can restore, enhance or mimic the immune system’s attack on cells. mAb targets different parts of the virus and prevents it from bonding with cells in the body, effectively neutralizing it. Clinical trials have shown promising data that this therapy works for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk for progressing to severe symptoms and/or hospitalization, including older Michiganders. To date, preliminary data suggests more than 6,600 Michiganders have received this treatment with 65% reporting feeling better with two days of treatment and less than 5% of them requiring hospitalization following treatment, the release added.

“When administered to non-hospitalized patients within 10 days of symptom onset, monoclonal antibodies may reduce symptoms and the risk of hospitalizations and emergency room visits associated with the virus,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Michiganders who contract COVID-19 should ask their health care providers about receiving this treatment and I urge providers to assess if their patients qualify. We have seen successful use of this therapy in long-term care facilities and even in home use by EMS providers. This therapy can help save the lives of more Michigan residents as we work to vaccinate 70% of Michiganders age 16 and older with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible.”

“We must stay vigilant”

“We have been treating patients with monoclonal antibodies over the last five months and we can attest to its success,” said Adnan Munkarah, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, Henry Ford Health System. “This treatment has the potential not only to help patients who are suffering from the severe effects of COVID-19, but also to ease the burden on our hospitals and caregivers. At the same time, we must stay vigilant by getting vaccinated and following the safety measures we have in place.”

The therapy has been used successfully to help address COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities in the state and to treat patients at home. This has included a 33-patient nursing home in Wayland in January, a senior care facility in Cass County in December and a veteran’s home in Grand Rapids in December. In seven long-term care facility outbreaks, 120 vulnerable patients with high mortality rates were treated with mAb. Only three of those patients needed to be hospitalized with one death.

Michigan was also one of the first states in the nation to issue an EMS protocol to allow paramedics to administer this medication to further increase access. In St. Clair County, Tri-Hospital EMS treated 50 patients at home over a nine-day period. The state is also using EMS to provide paratransit or ambulance transport to infusion clinics for patients who don’t have access to transportation.

The therapy is administered through an intravenous infusion and is designed for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have mild to moderate symptoms. It is not intended for hospitalized patients. These treatments are allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under an Emergency Use Authorization. According to the FDA, mAb therapy is effective against the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant, the predominant form of COVID currently seen in Michigan.

The National Institutes of Health recently recommended that patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of worsening disease should be treated with combination therapy — either Lilly or Regeneron.

Michigan continues to monitor and track patients within 14 days of COVID-19 antibody treatment administration to assess the impact of COVID-19 antibody treatments on the state’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate. Additionally, the state is now conducting follow-up phone interviews conducted by volunteer medical and pharmacy students to more effectively assess patient response to mAb.

Additional information on monoclonal antibody therapy can be found at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Combating COVID website and Michigan.gov/COVIDTherapy.

Michigan residents seeking more information about the COVID-19 vaccine can visit Michigan.gov/COVIDvaccine. Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

To view the PowerPoint presentation that the governor used during today’s press conference, click here.

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