Coronavirus omicron variant in Michigan: What you need to know

First case reported in Kenty County on Thursday
Posted at 5:37 AM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 05:53:38-05

(WXYZ) — Michigan has now joined the list of more than 20 states confirming cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The first reported case was in Kent County in West Michigan, near the Grand Rapids area. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said the adult had been vaccinated but had not yet received the booster dose.

State health officials knew the variant would show up at some point, and it's happening as hospitals continue to teeter on the edge, many of them at or near capacity.

Omicron poses another huge hurdle for hospitals in our state. At least three are already getting federal help to staff COVID-19 floors. At Henry Ford Health System, there are 130 COVID-19 patients and 43 in the ICU. Statewide, the hospitalization numbers are through the roof.

Clive Ellis, 66, is unvaccinated and battling his second bout of COVID-19. He's one of the nearly 4,700 COVID-19 patients in the hospital in Michigan.

"Feels like a wreck," he said.

Ellis is now urging people to get the shot.

"It's terrible. You don't want it," he said.

COVID-19 admissions statewide are up 88% in the last month and now, a new variant poses more problems.

Here's what we know about omicron:

  • Michigan joins 20 other states where omicron has been detected
  • The patient is an adult who's vaccinated but hasn't received a booster dose
  • The CDC said the variant is likely to spread faster than the original coronavirus variant
  • It's not clear how omicron compares to delta, the dominant strain in the U.S. right now
  • While omicron has been detected in Kent County right now, that's likely to change and show up in other areas of Michigan

Michigan's vaccination rate is at 55%, still lagging behind the national average. State health officials say it's adding to the problem and pushing hospitals to the brink.
"Many of our hospitals are no longer able to accept emergencies in their emergency department," MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said.

According to data, unvaccinated people in Michigan are 9 times more likely to die from the virus.

Doctors, nurses, therapists and others inside the hospitals are already working double shifts.

Henry FOrd is running at 88% right now, and Sparrow Hospital in Lansing is considered at triage level red, unable to take patients from other hospitals.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

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