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New COVID peaks on the way; question is how bad

Nurse wearing face mask, face shield, protective suit and gloves administers a COVID-19 test to a man. Another caregiver wearing personal protective equipment stands in the background.
Health officials say omicron is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Michigan.

State health officials say the highly contagious COVID omicron variant is expected to drive up case numbers through the end of January or early February.

The question is how bad it will it get before things start to improve.

That was part of Tuesday’s update on the state’s response to the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

“We’re now at a point that we have not seen in this pandemic,” said Doctor Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive.

“This is the highest number of weekly cases that we’ve ever had. 129,937 weekly cases in Michigan.” The state also hit a new high this week for adults hospitalized with COVID.

Health officials say omicron is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Michigan.

“With the continued transmission of the delta variant and the exponential spread of the even-more-contagious omicron variant, we are heading toward what will very likely be a very sharp crest in this wave of cases while still seeing our hospitalizations increase,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel.

Hertel and other health officials say hospitals are already stressed, and the risk is they’ll become too overwhelmed to treat everyone who needs help.

Bagdasarian, the state’s chief medical executive, said there are things people can do to mitigate the spread, such as getting vaccinated and boosted, and to wear KN-95 masks or double mask in indoor public places.

“So, we have a choice to make,” she said. “Do we want to work on bringing that peak down or do we just want to let that omicron surge explode?”

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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