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COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 identified in Houghton County

HANCOCK – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) notified the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department (WUPHD) that the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories identified the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 in five Houghton County cases.

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. Compared to the original virus, the B.1.1.7 variant is approximately 50% more transmissible, leading to faster spread and potentially increasing the numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

“When a variant is identified or suspected, additional measures take place, such as a strict 14-day quarantine,” said Kate Beer, Health Officer at WUPHD. “A new variant in our community is concerning since it can be related to higher transmission rates. Residents across the jurisdiction are reminded to

continue practicing mitigation strategies including mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing and getting a vaccine as soon as it is available to you. These actions help slow the spread of the virus.”

With the high transmission rate of the B.1.1.7 variant, vaccination is more important that ever. Vaccination is currently open to anyone 16 and older. Vaccinations can be scheduled with local providers by calling 2-1-1 or by visiting www.coppercountrystrong.com/vaccine.

For more information, visit www.wuphd.org or www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.

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