Local health departments and Munson Healthcare are urging people to take precautions as cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in five northern Michigan counties.
Antrim, Charlevoix, Leelanau, Grand Traverse and three cases in Newaygo (three cases) Counties, have all been found to have the Omicron variant.
Grand Traverse County Health Department Health Officer Wendy Hirschenberger says they know these cases are just the tip of the iceberg in Northern Michigan.
“Omicron is definitely very highly transmissible, and so it just results in a larger volume of cases,” said Hirschenberger. “That taxes lot of the resources for everyone, not just health departments and hospitals, but businesses as well with staffing.”
Hirschenberger says testing becomes important to identify early, but testing supplies and staff for the testing has become a challenge since Omicron.
“Just the volume of cases that result in hospital volumes staying up,” she said. “Emerging data shows that those who experience Omicron infections are likely to have less severe symptoms, particularly if they’re fully vaccinated and boosted.”
While Omicron is still a fairly new variant, Hirschenberger says it’s possible there could be new variants after this one.
“Likely we will see another variant,” she said. “We’ve continued to see variants as we’ve gone through the last two years. Which ones will pose more of a problem or an issue to us, we will have to see.”
Medical experts still say the best way to protect yourself from a serious COVID-19 case is get vaccinated and mask up.