Health officials: COVID cases in Michigan expected to rise in coming weeks

Increasing cases caused by omicron subvariant; shouldn’t cause surge in hospitalizations, deaths

FILE - Customers wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus as they shop at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Feb. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) (Matt Rourke, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Michigan health officials are encouraging residents to continue taking steps to prevent COVID-19 spread, as an omicron subvariant is expected to trigger a rise in cases.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that the state -- particularly Southeast Michigan -- is seeing a rise in COVID infections after experiencing a decline in cases in recent weeks. The increase, likely attributed to the subvariant of omicron known as BA.2, was expected, as the variant is believed to be more contagious, officials said.

The BA.2 subvariant is reportedly expected to cause a rise in COVID cases in Michigan for the next several weeks.

“While we wish we could avoid these types of increases in cases, the good news is we have excellent, effective tools to travel safely and gather with loved ones and prevent severe outcomes from COVID-19,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “We encourage Michigan residents to make a COVID-19 plan: have masks and over-the-counter tests on hand, speak to your physician ahead of time to find out if you qualify for treatments if you are infected and make sure you are up-to-date on vaccines. We recommend Michiganders test if they have symptoms or if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, and stay home if they are ill.”

Related: Interview: Top doctors discuss COVID variants, future as cases begin to rise again

Tracking and identifying COVID-19 variants has become a crucial took used to protect the public and track the virus’ progress around the globe. Viruses naturally mutate, and many COVID mutations exist -- but experts only identify a variant with its own name if it becomes dominant, or a significant concern, such as the delta and omicron variants.

More: Inside the Michigan lab where researchers identify, track COVID variants

COVID cases are increasing throughout the U.S., though health officials don’t believe the next surge will come close to the last surge that hit the nation. Officials say they don’t expect a huge jump in hospitalizations or deaths as cases rise this time, thanks to vaccination and booster rates, and immunity from the latest omicron spike.

The state of Michigan is currently identified as being in a “recovery” or “post-surge” phase of the pandemic. State health officials are using three terms to identify appropriate pandemic response measures: Readiness (or pre-surge), response (surge) and recovery (post-surge).

To help protect yourself from infection, people are encouraged to consider masking when it feels appropriate, and to regularly get tested to prevent potential spread, especially before events.

Read: It’s not over: COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in US

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.