COVID variant: There are now 17 cases in two counties

A new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus is spreading through Michigan. Officials have now found 17 cases and are on the lookout for more.

Michigan health officials have now found 17 cases of a new, more virulent strain of the virus that causes COVID-19. Those cases spread over two counties and hint at wider spread to come.

The so-called B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus has been discovered in Washtenaw and Wayne counties, both on the east side of the state.

What It Means: Health experts are worried about the new strain’s potential to spread rapidly within the state. It was just a week ago the variant was first identified – in a patient in Washtenaw County.

State officials have said it’s likely there are already more cases than they know about.

“This variant is more easily spread from person to person,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical officer, during a press briefing. “That means that for any given case, it will likely infect more people and lead to more spread. And this means possibly more cases overall, more hospitalizations and deaths.”

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What’s To Come: Officials expect the new variant to continue to spread, but aren’t sure if it will cause a spike in the state’s infection numbers.

In the meantime, there have been several other strains of the coronavirus that also have officials worried. President Joe Biden has issued restrictions on travel from South Africa, where another highly contagious variant of the coronavirus is spreading.

The first known case of a variant from Brazil has been discovered in the U.S. And experts are keeping an eye on a homegrown variant that has been discovered in California.

You can read more on MLive.

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