The latest Covid surge in Michigan, fueled by the very contagious omicron variant, should peak by the end of January or early February, Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the state's chief medical executive forecasted Tuesday.
"When we look at our percent positivity, we are up to 33.2 percent," she said during a 40-minute virtual press conference. "This is a number that we have not seen since the beginning of the pandemic when tests were very limited.
"And then, when we look at hospital capacity, we're at 21.9 percent of our inpatient beds filled with Covid-19 positive individuals."
Asked about herd immunity, she responded:
"It's not something natural that happens overnight. It’s not that we reach a certain threshold and then all of a sudden we don’t have to worry. Number one, we are not going to reach herd immunity during this surge. This is a very dangerous time for us and this is not what we want to see with cases exploding the way we are.
"The second thing, I’ll say is that the degree of protection, the degree of herd immunity we have, it improves the more people who are immune. So that means the more people who are vaccinated the safer it is for society, the safer it is for children under the age of five who aren’t eligible for vaccines, the safer it is for those who are immunocompromised."
She added that it's much safer to rely on vaccines to reach herd immunity rather than letting everyone get the virus and putting the heath systems at risk.
In the worst-case scenario during the peak, she said, cases could jump to 200,000 a week and hospitalizations to 8,000 (from 5,009 Monday).
Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said people in their 20s and 30s have the highest Covid rates of any age group.
And while there have been breakthrough cases among the vaccinated and boosted, the unvaccinated are still fueling the surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, she said.
Health officials advise people to wear N95 and KN95 masks, test before gatherings and get vaccinations and boosters. Just under 58% of eligible Michiganians are fully vcaccinated, below the national average of 63%.
"To lessen your risk of getting Covid and the potential for severe infection, to avoid disruptions to in-person learning and the economic ramifications that come with so many people getting sick and needing to stay home or quarantine, and to try to ensure that our health and hospital systems have the capacity to treat you quickly when you walk through their doors for an emergency, including non-Covid conditions, it is critical that every person in this state continues to take steps to stay safe," Hertel said.