Over the past month there were increases in hospital admissions among most age groups under 50 and more than 20 percent of inpatient hospital beds are currently occupied by patients with COVID-19, according to the state health department.

Registered Nurse Macy DeGroff works in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Covenant Healthcare in Saginaw.

"I don't think the public really knows. They're not exposed to it up here like we are," DeGroff said.

The seventh floor hallway is where you will find COVID-19 patients clinging to life. Five people have died there in the past week.

"They come in completely healthy, walking around, doing stuff at home. And they come in here with covid and unfortunately, it just robs them of everything they know," DeGroff said.

DeGroff said all the deaths are difficult on her, but there was one that stuck out.

"I had him for a month, and you get very, very close with the family. This week, he passed away and it kind of hit home. It was pretty hard," DeGroff said.

DeGroff said some of her patients were home for Thanksgiving enjoying time with their loved ones. A few weeks later, they are in a much different place.

The majority of the people she cares for are unvaccinated. DeGroff recalls many stories of regret.

"When we're getting ready to intubate a patient, we always place a Facetime to their family so they can say hi to their family, possibly for the last time. But a lot of them we ask 'do you wish you would've gotten vaccinated?' or they just blurt out 'I wish I would've done it. I wish I would've got vaccinated,'" DeGroff said.

The COVID-19 ICU is littered with well wishes from the community. While DeGroff appreciates the kind gestures, she really wants everyone to do their part.

"Get vaccinated. Wear your mask. If you know you're feeling sick, don't go around your family. Don't go to the grocery store. Try and protect your loved ones and just try and stay healthy," DeGroff said.

As Michigan endures another surge, her optimism about people's willingness to take vaccines is long gone.

"I thought there would be an end in sight. And right now, I feel like there isn't a light at the end of the tunnel just because a majority of people believe in that propaganda and they refuse to get vaccinated," DeGroff said.

DeGroff acknowledges there are people who won't do what she asks. If they end up at Covenant, she will do everything she can to save their lives.

"We know after the holidays there's probably going to be a spike again but we're ready for it," DeGroff said.

Despite the current surge, DeGroff said there are glimmers of hope. The additional staffing provided by the federal government at the request of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has made a difference, DeGroff said.

"The Department of Defense nurses and doctors that came here have been absolutely fantastic. They've really allowed some of the night-shift nurses to just physically take care of their patients to their best ability. They're not running from room to room," DeGroff said.

Even though DeGroff spends most days seeing covid patients at their worst, she will do her best to try and save each and every one of them.

"They wouldn't be alive if there weren't nurses up here and doctors and respiratory therapists keeping them alive. So what brings us back is somebody's got to do it," DeGroff said.

Copyright 2021 WNEM. All rights reserved.

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