A new strain of COVID-19 has reached Monroe County.
The Monroe County Health Department reported Tuesday that the county has detected its first case of a COVID-19 variant labeled B.1.1.7.
The variant was first discovered in Great Britain last November and arrived in the U.S. a month later. As of Tuesday, 139 cases of the variant were identified in Wisconsin.
The health department says the variant appears to be more contagious than other strains. However, the department added that variants are common with all viruses since they constantly change through gene mutations.
“Mutations among viruses are very common — it’s expected to occur in all viruses, including COVID-19,” states a press release issued by health department director Tiffany Giesler. “Most variants do not change how the virus behaves and may disappear.”
The release says early research has found the variant may be associated with increased death risk but that more studies are needed.
The county’s public guidance regarding COVID-19 remains unchanged:
- Wash hands frequently.
- Maintain social distancing (see CDC guideline for vaccinated individuals).
- Wear a mask.
- Get vaccinated as soon as able.
The county’s COVID-19 update shows 25 active cases in the county with five new cases reported April 1. The county has reported 4,349 confirmed cases since March 2020 and 31 deaths.