LANSING, Mich. – Michigan officials have identified a total of 17 confirmed cases of the new COVID-19 variant in the state.
On Monday afternoon, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said 13 cases have been identified in Washtenaw County and four cases have been identified in Wayne County.
The new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7, is more easily spread from person to person, but it doesn’t appear to cause more severe disease, Khaldun said. Current tests can identify the variant, and the vaccine appears to work against it, she said.
“There are likely more cases that we have not yet identified, and there’s possibly spread of the variant that is happening right now,” Khaldun said.
Since the variant is more contagious, officials worry about the possibility of a dramatic spike in Michigan’s case and positivity rates.
“We do not want to have to go backwards to slow the great progress we’ve already made,” Khaldun said.
An outbreak in the variant has caused a two-week shutdown of the University of Michigan athletic department.
The variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, was confirmed in a resident who returned to Michigan from the UK, health officials said.