Dr. Joneigh Khaldun March 26, 2020

During a Thursday, March 26, 2020 press conference, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said hospitals in southeast Michigan are at or near capacity with COVID-19 patients.

CADILLAC — There are no plans for downstate COVID-19 patients to come to Munson hospitals.

During a Thursday press conference held by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said hospitals in southeast Michigan are swamped.

"We know that many of our hospitals, particularly in Southeast Michigan, are at or near capacity. Intensive care units are full, and emergency departments are overloaded," Khaldun said from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office in Lansing. "The only way we're going to be able to effectively handle this outbreak is by coming together and coordinating our healthcare resources as a state."

Late Wednesday, Michigan implemented a statewide "load balancing plan."

Hospitals outside of the COVID-19 hotspot in southeast Michigan are being asked "to serve as relief hospitals, offering 10% of their usual bed capacity to accept patients from other hospitals that are currently overwhelmed with critically ill COVID-19 patients," Khaldun said.

But Munson says patients in rural northern Michigan are the priority.

"Munson Healthcare continues to focus our care and resources on serving over half a million people living in northern Michigan. Munson Healthcare hospitals throughout northern Michigan are the only source of healthcare for residents in those communities, and it is our obligation to ensure that we are prepared to deliver high-quality for the population we currently serve," the health care system said in a statement emailed to the Cadillac News on Thursday afternoon. "There are no plans at this time to admit patients from elsewhere in the state.”

Munson has designated three hospitals within its system to treat COVID-19 patients. Those hospitals are in Traverse City, Grayling and Cadillac.

As of Thursday, Munson had just one confirmed COVID-19 patient in the Cadillac hospital.