DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer officially lifted the state’s COVID restrictions and fully reopened the state for the first time in around 15 months.
But that doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. Variants of COVID from around the globe are still cause for concern.
The alpha variant (B.1.1.7), quickly gain a foothold in Michigan. It appeared in almost every county in the state. The delta variant (B.1.617.2) has cropped up in at least five Michigan counties. It’s even more contagious and may lead to more severe illness.
In Michigan, 25 cases of the delta variant have been identified in five counties. The counties include Wayne, Oakland, Livingston, Lapeer and Branch County.
|Location||Number of cases reported|
|Out of State||11|
|Total Case Count:||25|
According to state numbers, it isn’t widespread yet but in counties with high percentages of unvaccinated people it may quickly dominate.
Unfortunately, because only a small minority of virus samples are genetically sequenced it’s difficult to know how quickly a given variant is spreading in real time.
Any variant, especially if it’s more contagious, is a wildcard in our emergence from the COVID pandemic. The more contagious a variant is, the more likely it is to easily infect an unvaccinated person. The more unvaccinated people there are, the quicker it can spread.
Every unvaccinated person provides another link in a chain of contagion jumping from one person to the next. Eventually it will even find a vaccinated person who is susceptible to infection because of incomplete immunity.
Another concern is that with each person a variant infects, the better the chances are that it could give rise to yet another variation. The next one could possibly be even more capable of evading any immunity we have developed.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been proven to be highly effective against the delta variant after two doses. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is likely to be as well.
It’s critical to get more people vaccinated, especially in areas with more unvaccinated people -- like Detroit.