Medical director: Omicron is in Midland

Midland County Department of Public Health Medical Director Cathy Bodnar told the Daily News Wednesday evening that the first case of the Omicron variant in Midland County has been confirmed by the state.

Bodnar said earlier in the day that local professionals have detected equal amounts of the Omicron and Delta variants in wastewater treatment levels in Midland, Bay and Tuscola counties.

“I don’t think all of our regions have seen the uptick we’re seeing,” said Bodnar. 

Bodnar reported Midland County had 89 COVID-19 cases over a 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday. And between Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning, the county recorded an additional 158 cases, making a total of 247 cases over 48 hours.

Bodnar believes the increase in cases is due to people traveling and gathering over the holidays as well as Omicron’s arrival in the area.

Bodnar clarified that the Midland Health Department’s COVID numbers often differ from what the state reports because of the timing of the review of the data. The county’s statistics are based on when COVID test results are entered into the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ system.

The uptick in cases concerns Bodnar. While Omicron appears to be milder than previous variants, its high transmissibility has the potential to create more cases and overwhelm health systems.

According to the New York Times, MyMichigan Medical Center-Midland has a 91% ICU occupancy with 41 COVID patients and three ICU beds available. According to Michigan’s COVID website, which was last updated on Jan. 3, the Midland hospital is at 81% bed occupancy for the whole building, with 35 COVID patients and three in the ICU.

While Bodnar is uncertain whether the case increase will continue in the days to come, she encourages residents to protect themselves as a wave of cases due to Omicron is expected to come. The Midland County Health Department, in accordance with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, advises residents to wear face masks in indoor public settings regardless of their vaccination status, advises public establishments to implement masking policies, and advises individuals who are immunocompromised or who are not fully vaccinated to avoid large gatherings.

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Christin Hakim

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