Michigan urges COVID vaccines, masks, testing; No omicron cases detected yet

State urges testing before attending a gathering

FILE - A sign advises shoppers to wear masks outside of a store Monday, July 19, 2021, in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. Infections are climbing across the U.S. and mask mandates and other COVID-19 prevention measures are making a comeback in some places as health officials issue increasingly dire warnings about the highly contagious delta variant. But in a possible sign that the warnings are getting through to more Americans, vaccination rates are creeping up again, offering hope that the nation could yet break free of the coronavirus if people who have been reluctant to receive the shot are finally inoculated. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) (Marcio Jose Sanchez, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The omicron variant has not yet been detected in Michigan, but health officials are urging residents to take precautions in the form of vaccinations and other mitigation strategies.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said it is monitoring for the omicron variant and advising residents that the presence of variants makes it even more important to get vaccinated, including the booster does to increase protection, wear masks and take other precautions.

“Ensuring that as many Michiganders as possible are vaccinated remains the best protection we have against COVID-19 – including variants of concern.” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. “We are asking Michiganders to continue to use critical mitigation measures, such as getting vaccinated and getting boosters when eligible, wearing a mask, and getting tested regularly. Increased transmission fuels the development of more variants of concern.”

Related: Whitmer pushes vaccines, not mandates amid Michigan COVID surge, omicron variant

The MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories has re-analyzed the genetic sequencing data from 31,000 positive COVID-19 samples sequenced in its lab and has identified no cases of the new variant

“It’s still early, and there is much that we need to learn about the Omicron variant,” said Dr. Alexis Travis, senior deputy director of MDHHS’s Public Health Administration. “We know what protection measures are needed to reduce the spread of COVID and prevent additional mutations of the virus. We need Michiganders to continue to do their part to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

Michigan just surpassed its peak hospitalization total on Monday, with more Michigan residents in hospital beds for COVID than ever before.

Related: New variant cause for concern, not panic, Biden tells US

In addition to getting vaccinated and wearing masks – particularly indoors and in crowded areas – other things people can do to protect themselves and their loved ones include:

  • Getting tested for COVID-19, especially before gatherings.
  • Physically distancing from others and avoiding crowds
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water and cleaning hands with alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • Self-isolating until you recover if you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.

Related: Michigan health officials: Face masks recommended at all indoor gatherings amid COVID surge

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.