Michigan’s top doctor concerned about COVID-19 variant, increasing numbers

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun is Michigan's chief medical executive.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun is Michigan's chief medical executive.(source: State of Michigan)
Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 4:56 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - State health officials are watching closely for a post-holiday COVID-19 spike, but Michigan’s top doctor is more concerned about a more virulent coronavirus variant increasing the state’s statistics.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, who is Michigan’s chief medical executive, noted that the number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state increased for the first time in weeks to an average of 222 per million people every day. That rate is eight higher than a week ago.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 4,000 newly confirmed coronavirus illnesses on consecutive days Wednesday and Thursday for the first time since mid-December before that figure dropped to just over 3,600 on Friday.

Khaldun noted the percentage of positive coronavirus diagnostic tests edged upward by 1%, but hospitalizations continue falling.

“The declines we were seeing prior to the holidays seem to be reversing. And I’m concerned that they were gatherings, over the winter holidays and we’re starting to see the results of that,” she said.

Khaldun is “very concerned” about the new coronavirus variant that is spreading rapidly through Europe coming to Michigan. She said the United Kingdom is seeing “a dangerously fast increase in cases” over the past few weeks and implemented more restrictions.

“This variant is transmitted more easily,” Khaldun said.

She called on everyone who traveled over the holidays to quarantine for 10 days after they return home and, wear a face covering around anyone from a different household and get a COVID-19 diagnostic tests if any symptoms appear.

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