A 3D rendering of the omicron variant.
Three cases of the omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been detected in metro Detroit, bringing the total of confirmed infections in the state to six.
One case each has been identified in Wayne, Oakland, and Washtenaw counties, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The state’s first case was confirmed in Kent County
on Dec. 9. An additional two cases were detected in Genesee County
In Oakland County, omicron was detected in a vaccinated resident who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. A lab identified the strain as the omicron variant on Thursday, the Oakland County Health Division said Friday.
“The bad news is that Omicron is here. The good news is our main tools still work as with any variant – masking regardless of vaccine status, distance, and vaccinations including booster doses,” Oakland County Health Division Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust said in a statement. “Even if Omicron is slightly resistant to immunity to other variants, increasing your immunity through vaccinations will help prevent infection, hospitalization, and death.”
Details of the other metro Detroit cases weren’t immediately known.
The variant is the most contagious strain of COVID-19 and could become the most dominant one by the end of the year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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.
Health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated, pointing out that the vaccines are expected to protect people against severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Unvaccinated people are 4.4 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 and 9.3 times more likely to die, according to state data.
“Emergence of Omicron in our area further emphasizes the importance of primary vaccinations and boosters, especially before any upcoming holiday gatherings” Oakland County Director of Health and Human Services Leigh-Anne Stafford said. “Vaccination, masking and social distancing is strongly encouraged to help slow spread of Omicron and all COVID-19 viruses.”
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