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‘We are in crisis’ Michigan nurses say in response to COVID surge

Nurses ‘exhausted,’ organization urges businesses, communities to do their part in battling COVID
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A statement issued Friday by the Lansing-based Michigan Nurses Association clearly describes the stressful conditions Michigan nurses are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nurses are exhausted. Many hospitals are close to 100 per cent capacity. RNs around the state are being put in the impossible situation of having to decide which patient to attend to. Nurses are working up to 18 hours at a time, often without breaks,” wrote Jamie Brown, a Kalamazoo registered nurse and Michigan Nurses Association president in a release. 

The MNA is urging the public to do its part in the struggle to contain COVID-19 by staying at home, wearing masks and to get vaccinated when able.

“We are barely able to keep our heads above water. We are in crisis. We need our communities help,” the release states.

The MNA is criticizing Michigan business leaders, stating executives brought forward proposals to remove guarantees of personal protective equipment (PPE) for nurses and other healthcare workers, remove masks in restaurants, encouraging in-person work for employees who could work from home and lessen physical distancing requirements in workplaces.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce, in a statement of its own issued Wednesday, questioned the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) Advisory Committee (which is separate from, but related, to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s ‘Return-to-Office Workgroup’) for planning to move forward “with extending overly-restrictive COVID-19 workplace rules on a permanent basis.” 

"Michigan businesses cannot be handcuffed permanently and compete effectively in the global economy," said Dave Worthams of the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

In response, the Michigan Nurses Association says “these proposals (from Michigan businesses) are dangerously irresponsible and could cost lives.” 

In a bi-weekly update April 13, the Chippewa County Health Department (CCHD), which includes Sault, Mich. and the state’s Eastern Upper Peninsula, showed 2,216 cumulative cases of COVID-19 (946 confirmed, 1,270 probable), 1,778 recoveries, 31 cumulative deaths and six hospitalized cases.

By comparison, Algoma Public Health (APH), as of 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 16, reports 288 confirmed COVID cases since the pandemic began, 41 active cases, one hospitalized case, 247 recoveries and four cumulative deaths.

122,708 COVID tests have been performed by APH.

This comes as Premier Doug Ford was expected to announce further provincewide COVID restrictions Friday afternoon.     

South of the border, the Michigan Nurses Association states “if anything, we need more protective measures, not less.”

Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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