MONROE – Green County Public Health has been notified that two cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant have been identified in Green County. This variant was first discovered in England in November 12, 2020 and reported in Wisconsin on January 2021. This new strain may spread more rapidly and easily than the original strain of COVID-19. The B.1.1.7 strain may also be associated with an increased risk of death; however, more research is needed to confirm this.
“With the identification of this strain of COVID-19 in our community it is imperative that we all continue to take actions that will prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said RoAnn Warden, Public Health Officer/Director of Green County Public Health. “This strain of COVID-19 is more transmissible than the original strain, meaning that it can more easily spread from person to person. This could lead to an increase in cases, which would increase the number of people who are missing work or school, as well as the number of people who may need clinical care.”
The B.1.1.7 variant has a specific number of gene mutations that make it unique from the original strain identified. Viruses constantly change, and it is normal for new variants to occur. Several variants of COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally. These variants are identified through a process called whole genome sequencing which takes small portion of virus and looks at the genetic code. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, and other laboratories are working to together to conduct this testing on a small proportion of positive COVID-19 tests.
The same steps should be taken to prevent the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant as the original strain of COVID-19. Mask wearing, physical distancing, good hand hygiene, and avoiding gatherings are essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 will prevent the spread of COVID-19. Currently, all Wisconsinites 16 years of age and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Anyone who is having symptoms of COVID-19 or who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should get tested. For information on getting tested visit gcpublichealth.org.
For more information on emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services variant webpage. Monitor the Green County Public Health website and Facebook page, the DHS website for updates, and follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.