Michigan’s Covid Wards Are Filling Up With Younger Patients

“That’s one explanation that you have to think about,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease expert and hospital doctor in the Pittsburgh area, who said he sent borderline cases to be treated at home when hospitals were full. “I have a lower threshold to admit when I’m not worried about hospital capacity.”

But at Beaumont, Royal Oak, in suburban Detroit, where case numbers remain high, doctors said they had not lowered the bar for admissions. The younger people in their care often had fewer chronic health problems and a good chance to recover, but they exhibited serious symptoms that required immediate intervention.

“Some of them have kids that are younger than my kids, and you think about these people and the circumstances for their family if they don’t survive,” Dr. Felicia A. Ivascu said as she looked out over a unit where the sickest of the hospital’s coronavirus patients were hooked up to machines in glass-walled rooms.

The escalating situation in Michigan has upended the lives of people like Matthew Kirschner of Clinton Township, north of Detroit.

After hosting a small lunch in his backyard late last month, when vaccines were not yet open to everyone in Michigan, several family members tested positive for the virus. Mr. Kirschner, 36, who transports Covid-19 patients in his job as a firefighter and had survived a bout with the virus last fall, thought he knew what to expect: He grew most worried for his mother, who is in her 70s, has underlying conditions and fits the profile of people most affected by the disease.

But it was his 37-year-old sister, Cara Kirschner Estrada, who ended up seriously ill.

Ms. Kirschner Estrada, who was seven months pregnant when she got sick, checked herself into an emergency room this month with a bevy of symptoms: fever, chills, a cough, difficulty breathing. Doctors did an emergency C-section to deliver her son, Angelo, who is doing well.

Ms. Kirschner Estrada’s condition, however, grew precarious. She has been sedated at Beaumont, Royal Oak, and on life support, according to her family.