B.1.1.7. variant of COVID-19 identified in Van Buren County

HARTFORD — A new, more transmissible variant of COVID-19 has been identified in southwest Michigan.

An individual with the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 has been identified in Van Buren County as of late Sunday, according to the Van Buren/Cass Health Department. At this time, further details about this individual are unknown and the investigation is ongoing.

The Van Buren/Cass District Health Department is urging individuals to continue to take precautions against COVID-19, especially as new variants of the virus that cause COVID-19 become more prevalent. These important precautions include:

  • Get vaccinated for COVID-19 when available and eligible
  • Wear a mask around others
  • Stay six feet apart from others
  • Wash hands often
  • Ventilate indoor spaces

The SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant is thought to have emerged in the United Kingdom and has since been detected in many countries and states. This variant is concerning because it is associated with increased transmissibility, health department officials reported. Compared to the wild-type virus, the B.1.1.7 variant is approximately 50 percent more transmissible, leading to faster spread of the virus and potentially increasing numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The first Michigan case of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant was identified in Washtenaw County in January. Several other cases have been identified in Michigan since the first case was announced. VBCDHD continues to distribute COVID-19 vaccine to eligible individuals who work or live in Van Buren and Cass counties. The supply of vaccine is limited, and it will take time to vaccinate everyone, health officials said.

VBCDHD encourages individuals to be patient during this time.

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