NEWS RELEASE: COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7. identified in Ottawa County

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March 12, 2021

Media Contact: Kristina Wieghmink, public information officer I mobile/text 616-510-8523

COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7. identified in Ottawa County

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) notified the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) that the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories identified the COVID-19 variant known as SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 in an Ottawa County resident. The confirmed case is younger than 20 years of age and had no known travel history.

"The case is in isolation with close contacts identified. Additional measures take place when a variant is identified or even suspected, such as a strict 14-day quarantine and an extended contact tracing timeframe," said OCDPH Medical Director Dr. Heidel. "With the case not having any travel history and the variant being highly transmissible, we are urging all people take extra precautions to avoid infection and furthering the spread of the virus." 

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. 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. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention variant data, 3,701 B.1.17 cases are reported nationwide, with 562 of those from Michigan as of March 11, 2021.  

Public health is working to minimize the known serious consequences of COVID-19 infections, as well as the overall impacts on limited healthcare resources. With the high rate of transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant, vaccination is more important than ever. People should get vaccinated as soon as it is offered to them. At this time, the COVID-19 vaccines appear to be effective against the new variant. The protective actions that prevent the spread of COVID-19 will also prevent the spread of the new variant B.1.1.7. 

Public health mitigation measures aimed to minimize the impact of this variant strain in our communities include the following recommendations:

  • Wear a face mask around others
  • Keep at least 6 feet apart from others
  • Clean hands and disinfect surfaces frequently
  • Avoid crowded areas or gatherings
  • Ventilate indoor spaces if around others
  • Avoid domestic and international travel
  • Limit interactions with people who live outside of your household
  • Seek testing if ill, exposed or after travel
  • Follow isolation or quarantine guidance if ill, exposed, or waiting on test results
  • Get vaccinated when vaccine becomes available to you