LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — There is evidence cases of the omicron coronavirus variant are skyrocketing in metro Detroit.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reports the number of confirmed cases of the omicron variant is now at 54. The state as of Dec. 22 had confirmed only 13 cases.
These numbers do not indicate a total number of cases. They are the cases confirmed as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services tested random samples for statistical analysis. The state tests about 400 random samples a week.
“Only a small sample of what we actually are seeing is sent for genomic testing. And then we use statistics to determine how much of the population has this new variant,” said Dr. Payal Patel, an infectious diseases physician at the University of Michigan.
Patel says the genomic testing takes significant resources and time, up to a week. Given how contagious omicron is, the percentage of cases is only increasing.
“The fact that omicron is now the most prevalent strain of COVID nationwide, it is now likely the same in Michigan,” said Dr. Sandeep Sohal, an infectious disease fellow at Beaumont Health Royal Oak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as of Monday, Dec. 27 in the Midwest region, omicron likely accounts for more than 92% of cases.
Sohal says it doesn’t necessarily matter which variant patients have when it comes to treatment plans.
“If you are sick with COVID, you are sick, regardless of which variant you have. And the best way to prevent severe sickness is to be vaccinated,” Sohal said of treatments.
A significant majority of patients hospitalized are unvaccinated.
Doctors say hospitalizations are already significant, and there is concern is that because omicron is more contagious than previous strains, it will lead to more patients in need of care. Hospitals are already struggling with a shortage of staff and medicines.
The state last week increased restrictions on who can get monoclonal antibodies due to low supply.
“There are only so many doses left. So they are trying to protect the folks who are more likely to get very, very sick if they have to be admitted. But that is a tough place to be. And if you can avoid that all together, that is the best advice I can give,” Patel said.
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