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Omicron variant of COVID-19 identified in Kalamazoo, Van Buren counties

COVID-19 omicron
Posted at 4:51 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 16:55:00-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department (KCHCS) says the strain has been identified in six residents. The Van Buren/Cass District Health Department says the omicron variant has also been identified in a Van Buren County resident.

“The confirmed presence of the omicron variant in Kalamazoo County aligns with estimates that it has become the predominant COVID-19 variant in our region. We must vaccinate, boost, mask, and also test frequently,” said Dr. William Nettleton, medical director of KCHCS.

The CDC says the omicron variant will likely spread more easily, but just how easy compared to the delta variant is not yet known.

The health department says anyone with the omicron variant can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or do not have symptoms.

KCHCS recommends the following prevention strategies to help reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus, prevent severe disease, and can help limit variants:

  • Vaccination (5 years and older) and Booster doses for those eligible
  • Testing for COVID-19 if you have symptoms, 5 days after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, and before gatherings
  • Mask wearing in public indoor spaces
  • Social distancing from others
  • Staying home if you are sick or have symptoms
  • Isolation [kalcounty.com] if you test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms and notification to your close contacts if you test positive
  • Quarantine [kalcounty.com] if you have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19
  • Follow recommendations for traveling [cdc.gov]

The health department also says it has updated its general population quarantine and isolation guidance to align with new guidance from the CDC.