LANSING, Mich. — A third 22-member medical team from the U.S. military is being deployed to Michigan, where hospitals are grappling with record-high numbers of COVID-19 patients amid the state’s fourth surge of infections.

The nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists will assist Covenant Healthcare in Saginaw starting Dec. 12, the state health department said Thursday. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called it “much-needed relief.” Two other 22-member teams began treating patients in Grand Rapids and Dearborn this week during the spike that also is hitting other states in the Midwest and New England.

More than 4,500 people, most of them unvaccinated, were hospitalized in Michigan with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases as of Wednesday. The 4,269 adults with confirmed infection surpassed the state’s previous pandemic high that was reported two days earlier.

The seven-day daily death average was 79 earlier this week, which was up from 66 in mid-November, according to Johns Hopkins University. The daily death toll is similar to what it was in the spring, but isn’t as high as it was last winter.

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association, which last week compiled data from most health systems, said 76 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients weren’t fully vaccinated and 87 percent of those in intensive care units weren’t.

“We have a safe and effective vaccine that is quite literally saving lives,” said Elizabeth Hertel, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services. “Michigan residents absolutely need to get vaccinated to keep their loved ones safe this holiday.”

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