Officials say contagious COVID variant from Brazil found in Michigan as cases surge

P1 Variant identified in Bay County resident

Michigan has identified its first case of the P.1 variant of COVID-19, which was first found in Brazil and is believed to be more contagious, like other variants of the virus.

The COVID-19 variant detected in Brazil has been identified in Bay County. That variant is known as the P1 strain and it is more contagious and more than 50% able to reinfect.

“Like the other variants, we are seeing it is more transmissible meaning it’s more contagious,” said Lynn Sutfin with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

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The person infected in Bay County and the people they’ve been in contact with will need to quarantine for 14 days. It’s unclear what effect, if any, it will have on those, including seniors, who have already been vaccinated as there isn’t enough research to know exactly.

Michigan’s surging COVID caseload ranks at the top in the nation for new infections, and cases are rising in younger people. State officials has said no new restrictions are imminent, instead emphasizing mask wearing and vaccinations.

“Just because you can go out doesn’t necessarily mean you should and you definitely need to be taking note of the practices -- wearing the mask and social distancing when you go out,” Sutfin said.

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Michigan officials reported more than 6,000 new COVID cases in the last 24 hours.

That report is down slightly from Wednesday, but still far higher than a month ago.

Michigan officials also confirmed the first case of the Brazilian variant of COVID-19 is in Michigan. That variant is believed to be more contagious. The patient is a Bay County resident who is now in a 14-day quarantine.

Officials said no new restrictions will be put in place. That leaves any potential closure up to county health departments.

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