New omicron subvariant spreading as COVID-19 cases rise in metro Detroit

Posted at 11:29 PM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 23:29:53-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — COVID-19 cases in the United States are starting to climb again as the country gets ready to hit 1 million total COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic began.

This also comes as the White House warns of another looming surge later this year that could lead to 100 million new infections.

“It was like I had the flu, pneumonia, bronchitis all at once," said Dave Fital of Shelby Towship, who recently battled COVID-19. “I'm 54 years old and it was the sickest I've ever been in my life.”

Fital is one of the growing number of metro Detroiters to have been diagnosed with COVID-19. He’s been fully recovered for more than a week now after battling COVID-19 at home but says it wasn’t easy.

“It was horrible for me," Fital said. "I was really sick in bed, couldn’t do anything for probably like three to four days.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using data from hospitalizations, as of last week, all counties in metro Detroit have moved from low risk to medium risk. A new omicron subvariant, BA.2.12.1, is currently making its way across the U.S., accounting for roughly 30% of all new cases.

“This virus just mutates super, super quickly. We don’t have any other virus that changes this quick,” said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, director of Infection Control and Prevention at Henry Ford Health. "Influenza, which is a typical the virus we think about, changes year to year. This one is changing almost every few months."

Cunningham says Henry Ford Health System COVID-19 admissions are up over 30% to 40% this week as other local hospitals are also reporting increases. However, numbers still remain much lower than previous surges.

Henry Ford currently has about 55 COVID-19 patients in the entire system, while Beaumont Health has about 136 and Michigan Medicine has 26, according to their respective websites.

“Right now, the numbers are manageable, but if we keep up this rate, we could be in another surge that’s as bad as the last one,” Cunningham said.

That being said, spread is growing. Henry Ford's positivity rate is now 17%.

“That's pretty high," Cunningham said. "We had been as low as 3%, 4%, 5% and 6%, so this has definitely been a change over the past 10 days.”

Cunningham says he’s now wearing a mask when in public and recommends others consider doing the same, hoping to keep cases from growing too fast.

“I'm not saying we all need to panic, but we do need to take some steps to keep it under control,” Cunningham said.