Flashpoint interview: Michigan’s chief medical officer discusses omicron, when surge could peak, COVID tests

‘What they’re really predicting is that we will peak by the end of January, maybe early February’

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian is the chief medical executive for the state of Michigan.

This week on Flashpoint, the state of Michigan’s chief medical officer Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian discussed the COVID-19 pandemic in our state.

Bagdasarian said the surge of COVID-19 omicron variant is underway in Michigan, but the worst of it could be yet to come.

“Modeling shows that we’re currently experiencing our omicron (variant) surge. We know that just a few weeks ago we were still seeing mostly delta (cases), and omicron has taken over in the state really fairly recently,” she said.

Related: 9 COVID takeaways: ‘This surge is not like the others,’ and where Michigan is heading

Bagdasarian said Michigan’s peak in omicron variant cases could be by the end of January or the beginning of February.

“When we look at modeling based on what academic researchers are putting together around the country, based on Michigan’s data, what they’re really predicting is that we will peak by the end of January, maybe early February. So we have not seen the worst, I fear,” said Bagdasarian.

As for more variants after omicron:

“Well I have to tell you there will be new variants,” she said. “There will be variants after omicron. This is not the last variant of concern that we’ve seen. Now, what these variants will look like and how they’ll behave, we don’t yet know. Could they cause milder disease? It’s possible. Could they cause more severe disease? We don’t know. It really depends on how the virus behaves. Mutations occur every time the virus has a chance to replicate. The more the virus spreads, the more it makes mistakes and mutations, and we don’t know what those mutations will look like and how it will affect how the virus behaves.”

Bagdasarian also discussed COVID tests, turnaround time of those results and the supply of tests.

“The availability simply hasn’t been there. When we talk about (COVID) testing as a whole, there is testing available when we look statewide. There is PCR testing available, but does it meet our needs? It doesn’t meet our needs in terms of turnaround time, having those test results available right away ... rapid antigen tests, and over-the-counter tests in particular, is what we really need. And we need enough of them so that Michigan residents can test multiple times.”

More: Michigan to offer free at-home COVID tests at 18 libraries: Here’s where

The doctor also discussed vaccination rates among groups in Michigan.

Watch the full interview above.

View: Michigan COVID data section

More: Flashpoint section

About the Author:

Devin Scillian is equally at home on your television, on your bookshelf, and on your stereo. Devin anchors the evening newscasts for Local 4. Additionally, he moderates Flashpoint, Local 4's Sunday morning news program. He is also a best-selling author of children's books, and an award-winning musician and songwriter.