GLADWIN/ROSCOMMON COUNTIES – The Central Michigan District Health Department was notified this week of two cases of the COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7 in their jurisdiction. These are the first in the area and were identified in adult females, in both Gladwin and Roscommon County. 

The cases were identified through routine active surveillance by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Case investigation and contract tracing have been completed.B.1.1.7. appears to be more contagious, but there has been no indication that it affects the clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been circulating across the United States for months. 

However, a higher rate of transmission could increase the number of people who need to be hospitalized or who lose their lives to COVID-19 should the new variant begin circulating widely in Michigan. To date, the variant has been identified in 47 states and jurisdictions in the U.S. As of Sunday, March 7, 2020, there were 437 cases in Michigan.

“The identification of this more contagious variant in our area reminds us that we must continue to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, and avoiding indoor gatherings,” said Dr. Jennifer Morse, Medical Director for the health department. “Anyone who has any symptoms or may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, either here or during travel, should get tested and quarantine themselves.”

Important precautions to protect against COVID include:

- Get vaccinated for COVID-19 when available and eligible.

- Wear a mask covering your nose and mouth when around others.

- Stay six feet apart from others.

- Wash hands often.

- Ventilate indoor spaces.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, have been exposed to COVID-19, or recently have traveled, it is important get tested. You can find testing locations at www.mi.gov/coronavirustest or by calling 211 or the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136, press “option 1.”

The latest information is available at www.michigan.gov/coronavirus, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and www.cmdhd.org/novel-coronavirus. To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit www.michigan.gov/covidvaccine.

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