KENOSHA – A more contagious – and potentially more deadly – strain of coronavirus has shown up in southeast Wisconsin for the first time, officials said.
B.1.1.7 – commonly known as the U.K. variant of the coronavirus – was detected in test results for a patient who tested positive for COVID-19 in early February, according to a press release issued Monday by the Kenosha County Joint Information Center. The patient has already completed a required isolation period.
The variant – which results from mutations caused when the virus replicates its DNA inside a patient’s body – was first detected in the United Kingdom in the fall of 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Check out the Racine County COVID-19 dashboard
The first case of the B.1.1.7 was confirmed in the United States in December, according to the CDC.
Studies have since confirmed that the virus spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. A study in January reported the variant also carries an increased risk of death compared to different variants. However, officials caution that more research is required, according to the CDC website.
The local appearance of the virus – and its unknowns — underscore the need to maintain precautionary measures even as vaccinations become more widely available, said Kenosha County Health officer Dr. Jen Freiheit.
“We don’t know a huge amount about these variants yet,” she said in the press release. “That’s why we still need to wear masks, avoid gatherings, and socially distance.”
In other news, Kenosha County Public Health clinics will remain open at the county job center from March 1 to March 5, officials said.
Kenosha residents who have made second-dose vaccine appointments for the week should go to the Job Center at their appointment time.
Officials are hoping to establish a new location with expanded capacity, according to the press release.