Michigan health officials on Thursday reported the first known case of the Brazilian coronavirus variant in the state. The variant, identified as P.1, was detected by commercial lab Quest in a Bay County resident.
Officials said contact tracing was underway and that they are reviewing the individual’s travel history in an attempt to identify a potential source. The discovery marks the second variant detected among residents in the states, as three additional cases involving the B.1.1.7 strain are also being investigated.
“We are concerned about the discovery of another variant in Michigan,” Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), said in the news release. “It is now even more important that Michiganders continue to do what works to slow the spread of the virus by wearing their masks properly, socially distancing, avoiding crowds, washing their hands often and making a plan to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it is their turn. We all have a personal responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and end this pandemic as quickly as possible.”
Michigan was recently ranked worst in the nation in terms of coronavirus case rate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as officials continue to warn about sharp rises of the illness involving unvaccinated individuals. Key figures of hospital systems in the state have also warned that the recent surge in cases is striking younger demographics, which they say is likely due to high vaccination rates among the elderly.
The state is scheduled to open vaccine eligibility to all adults ages 16 and older on April 5, although some health systems have already begun allowing everyone to schedule appointments online.