Thursday, December 16, 2021

Michigan confirms 2 more omicron cases as variant rapidly spreads nationwide

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2021 at 10:54 AM

click to enlarge 3-D rendering of the omicron variant of COVID-19. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • 3-D rendering of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

Two more cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 have been identified in Michigan, bringing the total to three, as health experts warn that the strain is far more transmissible than previous ones.

The state's first case was confirmed on Dec. 9.

The two new cases were detected in Genesee County adults, who were infected during “domestic travel,” the county’s health department said.

A lot is still not known about the variant, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that "early data suggests that omicron is more transmissible than delta, with a doubling time of about two days.”

At that rate, omicron could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by month’s end.

Michigan health officials are encouraging people to get vaccinated, saying it’s the most effective way to slow the spread of variants.

Between Oct. 21 and Nov. 19, the last 30 days of complete data, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 71% of the new COVID-19 infections, 72% of the hospitalizations, and 76% of the deaths, according to the Michigan health department. Unvaccinated people are 4.4 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 and 9.3 times more likely to die, the data show.

Meanwhile, for the first time in 49 days, the state’s record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations declined, The Associated Press reports.

The omicron variant was first detected in South Africa on Nov. 11. The first U.S. case was confirmed on Dec. 1.

The CDC classified omicron as a “variant of concern” on Nov. 30. The classifications are made amid concerns about variants being more contagious, causing more severe illness, or showing resistance to vaccines or treatments.

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