Omicron COVID-19 variant found in Kent County

Posted at 6:01 PM, Dec 09, 2021

KENT, Mich. — The first case of the Omicron variant has been found in Kent County according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Vaccine records indicate the Kent County adult was fully vaccinated but had not received a booster dose.

“The identification of the Omicron variant is not unexpected,” says Dr. Adam London, Kent County Health Department Director. “We are fortunate that we have effective, safe, and available vaccines that can protect us from this illness. We continue to urge people to get their vaccine and to get their boosters as soon as they are eligible.”

The variant was discovered in Kent County initially on Dec. 3, 2021, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notified MDHHS that it was the Omicron variant on Dec. 9, 2021, after genetic sequencing was complete.

The first siting of the Omicron variant was on Nov. 11 in South Africa. The first case of the Omicron variant in the United States was found on Dec. 1.

Michigan is now one of more than 20 states with confirmed Omicron detections officials report.

“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.”

The CDC classified the Omicron variant, B.1.1.529, as a variant of concern by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Nov. 30.

Variants of concern are deemed so if they show evidence of being more contagious, cause more severe illness or resistance to diagnostics, treatments, or vaccines according to MDHHS.

Investigation of the Omicron variant case is ongoing and being coordinated by MDHHS and the Kent County Health Department.

"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."

According to CDC, the Omicron variant will probably spread more effortlessly than SARS-CoV-2 virus. Anyone with the Omicron infection has the ability to spread the virus to others, regardless of symptoms or vaccination status.

According to state data, persons without the vaccine have roughly 4 times the risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and 9 times the risk of dying from it compared to fully vaccinated persons.

Information on finding a vaccine can be found online.

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