Michigan officials expect omicron variant to sweep state

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says people who haven’t been vaccinated for COVID-19 are taking up too many beds at Michigan’s strained hospitals as the state prepares for the rapid spread of omicron variant.

Whitmer said Tuesday at a news conference in Grand Rapids that the omicron variant is already the dominant strain in the U.S. and is expected to spread rapidly through Michigan.

Much remains unknown about the variant, including whether it causes more or less severe illness than previous strains.

Health officials say early studies suggest that the vaccinated will need a booster shot for the best chance at preventing omicron infection, but that even without the extra dose, vaccination still should offer strong protection against severe illness and death.