LANSING, Mich. Michigan officials have identified the state’s first case of a new coronavirus variant, which is believed to be more contagious, in an infected individual living in Washtenaw County.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) officials announced Saturday, January 16 that an adult woman living in Washtenaw County had contracted a new variant of COVID-19, known as B.1.1.7. Officials say he recently traveled to Great Britain, where the variant was first identified and owned recently sent parts of the country under tight lockdown to help curb the spread of the virus.
According to authorities, two additional positive COVID-19 cases have been identified among close contacts with the Washtenaw County woman, but it is unclear whether the two people also have the virus variant.
The variant, which has been officially identified at other countries worldwide, heading for the United States in late 2020 and first identified in California. Officials said the variant had now been identified in at least 16 other states as of January 16.
The Michigan official said the new variant was thought to be more contagious, but “there is no indication that it affects clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been circulating across the United States for months,” according to a press release published today. issued January 16.
However, officials said the new variant – if circulating widely in Michigan – could lead to higher transmission rates of the virus, which in turn could increase the number of people who “need to be hospitalized or who have lost their lives to COVID-19.”
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“The discovery of this variant in Michigan is worrying, but unexpected,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and deputy head of health at MDHHS. “We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic as quickly as possible. We continue to urge Michiganders to follow a research-based approach by wearing their masks properly, maintaining social distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands frequently, and making plans to get a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it’s their turn. “
The virus variant cases announced Saturday are the only known cases of the variant in Michigan, but officials say there may be more cases that have yet to be identified.
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Health officials urged residents to continue to follow mitigation protocols to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including frequent hand washing, maintaining good hygiene, maintaining social distancing and avoiding crowds and gatherings.
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With growing concerns about Michigan’s COVID-19 metric and a new variant of the virus, Governor Gretchen Whitmer was asked if he anticipates new restrictions on activity in the state.
During the briefing on Wednesday (January 6), Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the state’s case rate began to stabilize after 46 days of declining. He also revealed a much higher level of positivity – 9.6%.
As well as some worrying trends in metrics, Whitmer and Khaldun are both talking about a new variant of COVID-19, which could be easier to spread.
Whitmer was asked if, because of those concerns, the state would see increased restrictions the current MDHHS sequence.
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