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More cases of COVID-19 variant found in Wayne County, at U-M

The Laboratory found the variant in specimens from two adult women associated with U-M. Previously, the university had three cases of the variant identified.
Credit: AP
Nurse practitioner Marna Taylor gives Ahmad Bazzi a nasal swab to test for COVID-19 at ACCESS in Dearborn, Mich., Friday, June 12, 2020. Bazzi also had antibody testing at ACCESS, one of the largest Arab American advocacy organizations in the United States. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced Saturday that more cases of the new, highly-contagious COVID-19 variant have been founded in a Wayne County resident and among people associated with the University of Michigan (U-M) in Ann Arbor.

According to the MDHHS, the variant B.1.1.7 was identifies in an adult man who lives in Wayne County through a specimen sent to the department’s Bureau of Laboratories. The Laboratory also found the variant in specimens from two adult women associated with U-M. Previously, the university had three identified cases of the variant.

“The new variant is present in Michigan and we are at risk of seeing more spread of COVID-19. Everyone should do their part to end this pandemic. Get tested if you have been exposed, have symptoms, or have recently traveled to an area with a new variant spreading,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS.

B.1.1.7 spreads more easily between people, but the MDHHS says there is no indication that it affects the clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has been circulating across the country and the world for months.

The health department is now working with U-M on strategies to prevent the spread of the virus. The MDHHS says that based on available evidence, current tests and vaccines for COVID-19 also work against B.1.1.7.

Preventative actions against COVID-19 and the variant B.1.1.7 include the following:

  • Get vaccinated for COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask around others.
  • Stay 6 feet apart from others.
  • Wash hands often.
  • Ventilate indoor spaces.

“Make sure you are following all quarantine and isolation guidance,” Dr. Khaldun said. “And do your part to prevent the spread of this virus by continuing to wear your mask, avoid gatherings, socially distance, and washing your hands.”

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