LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Kent County Health Department have detected a case of Omicron variant in a Kent County resident.

This is the first case of the Omicron variant found in Michigan.

“We are concerned, although not surprised, about the discovery of the Omicron variant in Michigan,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director in a press release. “We continue to urge Michiganders ages 5 and up to get vaccinated and continue participating in measures we know slow the spread of the virus by wearing well-fitting masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often and testing for COVID-19. Vaccines are our best defense against the virus and how we can manage the spread of COVID-19.”  

The Omicron variant was classified as a Variant of Concern by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 30.

A Variant of Concern is a variant that shows evidence of being more contagious, causing more severe illness or resistance to diagnostics, treatments or vaccines.

“We have tools that prevent the spread of COVID-19, including Omicron. However, we continue to see that those not utilizing these tools, including vaccines, are disproportionately affected by this virus,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive in the release. “The data is clear that these vaccines are extremely safe and effective, and the side effects of COVID-19 are much worse than receiving a vaccine. I emphasize the importance of not waiting to get vaccinated. Now is the time.”

The person’s COVID-19 case was first reported to the Michigan Disease Surveillance System on Dec. 3 and was identified as an Omicron case on Dec. 9.

“The identification of the Omicron variant is not unexpected,” says Dr. Adam London, Kent County Health Department Director. “We are fortunate that we have effective, safe and available vaccines that can protect us from this illness. We continue to urge people to get their vaccine and to get their boosters as soon as they are eligible.” 

The Omicron variant was first detected on Nov. 11 in South Africa and the first case was confirmed in the United States on Dec. 1.

Michigan is now one of 20 other states with confirmed Omicron detections.