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U.P. hospital leaders speak on pandemic

ESCANABA — This is a message from your Upper Peninsula hospital leaders and health experts – fellow Yoopers who have endured the hardships of this pandemic alongside you. We’re proud to have the important job of caring for our families, friends, and neighbors. And having been on the front lines of this pandemic since day one, with very little rest, we know this fight is far from over.

Positively, vaccines prove to be more than 99 percent effective in preventing illness, hospitalizations, and deaths in Michigan. That said, we are in a race against aggressive variants that increase the risk of hospitalizations for both adults and children. We want to protect everyone, including kids, as they are not immune to COVID-19 and its long-term complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).

Reports show severe cases of MIS-C have occurred in children, even those who presented asymptomatic for COVID-19. The long-term health impacts can be devastating. In Michigan, children have been put on ventilators and have experienced amputations, among other complications. Though rare, even one case is too many.

Nearly all children have felt the impact of the pandemic in some way. Pediatric depression rates are rising and well-child visits are declining along with childhood vaccination rates.

Working in healthcare takes passion and grit – but those things alone can only get us so far under these circumstances. Parents and caregivers, we need your help to get through this. Children under 16 cannot yet receive a vaccine, and we’re seeing significant community spread in schools and youth sports. Making the individual choice to get vaccinated can protect the people around you – and keep our kids out of quarantine.

We are just as fatigued and ready for a new normal as you are. As the health experts, we are urging fellow Yoopers to help us get there and keep everyone in the community – especially our kids – safe and healthy. Get tested, especially after travel; wear a mask in public; avoid large gatherings; limit time with those outside of your household; wash hands often and well; get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Together, we can stop this pandemic once and for all.

Sincerely,

UP Hospital Leaders at Aspirus Keweenaw, Ontonagon, Iron River, Baraga County Memorial Hospital, Helen Newberry Joy Hospital, Ironwood Hospitals & Clinics, Mackinac Straits Health System, Inc., Munising Memorial Hospital, OSF Healthcare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group, Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, UP Health System – Bell, Marquette, Portage; and War Memorial Hospital

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