Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was in Grand Rapids Tuesday morning to address the latest response to COVID-19 in Michigan.

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The omicron variant has been quickly gaining ground and causing concern, with health officials warning it could be the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S. before the new year, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The press conference in Grand Rapids Tuesday began around  9:20 a.m. at the Hispanic Center of West Michigan. Gov. Whitmer was joined by local professionals and community members.

During the briefing, Gov. Whitmer announced announced a statewide goal to have 1 million more Michiganders, including 95% of eligible nursing home residents, receive the COVID-19 booster by Jan. 31, 2022.

She and MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel also outlined actions Michiganders can take to keep themselves and their families safe this holiday season.

Gov. Whitmer said,

As Omicron becomes the dominant COVID-19 variant in the United States, we all have to step up this holiday season to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Our hospitals and health care workers have been working tirelessly to save lives, and we are in for a tough four to six weeks. We must all take action to protect ourselves and help our healthcare workers and hospitals do their jobs. I encourage every Michigander who is eligible to get their booster shot. Together, we can help 1 million more Michiganders, including 95% of all eligible nursing home residents get their boosters by the end of January 2022. We know from preliminary data that the booster offers more robust protection against Omicron. A 15-minute appointment to get your booster can help keep you out of the hospital and save your life. If you still have not gotten vaccinated yet, know that it is not a matter of if you will get sick but of when. We have safe and effective vaccines. Please get your shots.

Here are the steps MDHHS recommends to keep you and your family safe during the holidays:

  • Get your vaccine. Get your booster. Find an appointment at Vaccines.gov
  • Mask up in public indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings. Upgrade your mask to something with additional layers such as a KN95 mask or wear two well-fitting face coverings.
  • For holiday gatherings with friends or family, immunocompromised people should take all precautions of unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask. If a member of your household has a weakened immune system, wear a mask. If you have symptoms consistent with for COVID-19 or if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, and before any unmasked gatherings, get tested.

Hertel said,

“Today, we remain at a severe point in the pandemic. As the more transmissible Omicron variant continues to spread, now is the time for everyone to make sure you have plans for the holidays that will keep you and your family safe into the New Year and make sure we all have access to care if we need it. We have been surging staffing, requesting more resources, and prioritizing keeping Michiganders safe. None of us can predict whether we will get mild or severe symptoms or find ourselves facing long COVID symptoms. Even otherwise healthy and young people can get sick or end up needing care, so it is important that everyone use all the proven prevention strategies at our disposal. If you are gathering with family, friends or traveling to a bowl game, be extra vigilant, get vaccinated, get tested and wear a mask to keep yourself and your family safe.

MDHHS says they're working with local, state and federal partners to support health systems, address the surge, and save lives with every available resource.

The press conference was livestreamed on Fox 17's Facebook page.

According to Click on Detroit, this is Gov. Whitmer's first COVID-19 briefing since June.

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