NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Michigan state health officials reported Thursday on the first Omicron variant, B.1.1.529 in the state in Kent County.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“We are concerned, although not surprised, about the discovery of the Omicron variant in Michigan,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “We continue to urge Michiganders ages 5 and up to get vaccinated and continue participating in measures we know slow the spread of the virus by wearing well-fitting masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often and testing for COVID-19. Vaccines are our best defense against the virus and how we can manage the spread of COVID-19.”

“We have tools that prevent the spread of COVID-19, including Omicron. However, we continue to see that those not utilizing these tools, including vaccines, are disproportionately affected by this virus,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “The data is clear that these vaccines are extremely safe and effective, and the side effects of COVID-19 are much worse than receiving a vaccine. I emphasize the importance of not waiting to get vaccinated. Now is the time.”

Michigan continues to battle COVID-19 seeing record hospitalizations and leading the nation in per capita case rates.

Nearly 4,700 patients were in the hospital statewide Wednesday. The roughly 4,400 hospitalized adults with confirmed cases — most of them unvaccinated — were at the highest point in the 21-month coronavirus pandemic.

The state also recently reported its highest seven-day average of new daily cases, at 10,014, on December 3.

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Earlier this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for employers are “a problem” for her and state government.

“We’re an employer too, the state of Michigan is,” Whitmer was reported as saying. “I know if that mandate happens, we’re going to lose state employees. That’s why I haven’t proposed a mandate at the state level. Some states have. We have not, we’re waiting to see what happens in court.”