At Spectrum Health, a major health-care system here, officials spent part of last week debating whether to move to “red status” in a show of how strained hospitals had become.

A flood of mostly unvaccinated covid-19 patients was arriving at emergency departments already packed with people suffering other medical issues, sending capacity to unprecedented levels. The only hesitation for Spectrum’s decision-makers? Data suggested the covid surge was not over.

“We don’t have a darker color,” said Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan. “So if we’re red now, what are we in two weeks?”

He and other leaders ultimately decided Thursday to make the change, upgrading the health-care system to the most serious tier for the first time since the pandemic began. In recent days, the state had emerged as a new covid hot spot, leading the nation in new infections and hospitalizations. By the end of last week, its seven-day average of new cases had hit a pandemic high. State leaders asked the U.S. Department of Defense to provide emergency hospital staffing to handle the surge – a request granted Wednesday.... Read More: Washington Post