Wisconsin Department of Health Services and laboratory partners have identified a more contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus in the state.

“We already know that COVID-19 is easily transmitted through respiratory droplets, and with this new variant appearing to be even more infectious, taking preventative measures like wearing a mask and physically distancing are even more important,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm in a Jan. 13 news release.

The variant of the virus, known as B117, was found Jan. 12 through genome sequencing and routine contact tracing.

“Mutations among viruses are very common. It’s not unusual – in fact, it’s expected. As time goes on in the pandemic and the virus continues to replicate on a large scale, the genetic sequence of the virus will change,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard.

The variant was first found in the U.S. two week ago in Colorado.

COVID-19 in Rock County

DHS data shows Rock County reported 27 new COVID-19 cases and one additional virus-related deaths on Wednesday.

A total of 12,968 cases and 126 deaths have been recorded in Rock County since the pandemic began. Data also shows 66,421 negative tests, 12,003 recoveries and an estimated 839 active cases in Rock County.

As of Jan. 13, 18% of tests in the county were positive. The statewide seven-day test positivity average is 9.4%.

A total of 38 hospitalizations in Rock County due to COVID-19 were reported as of Tuesday, up from 35 admissions on Tuesday.

COVID-19 in Dane County

Dane County reported 35,743 cases and 214 deaths; Green County reported 2,495 cases and 10 deaths; and Walworth County reported 8,219 cases and 107 deaths, according to DHS data on Wednesday.

Statewide

Across the state, 2,134 cases and 37 deaths were reported Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 508,346 and 5,162 deaths.

Statewide hospitalizations increased by 122 admissions on Wednesday as 22,705 hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have been reported to date.

Wisconsin has a recovery rate of 93.6% as an estimated 27,749 cases remain active.

Illinois

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported Winnebago County added 100 new cases and two additional deaths on Wednesday, bringing the countywide total to 25,726 cases and 367 deaths.

As of Wednesday, Boone County reported 5,442 cases and 65 deaths; DeKalb County reported 7,229 cases and 86 deaths; Ogle County reported 4,520 cases and 61 deaths; and Stephenson County reported 3,441 cases and 54 deaths, IDPH data shows.

Across Illinois, IDPH reported 5,862 cases and 97 additional deaths on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 1,046,030 cases and 17,840 deaths. The statewide seven-day test positivity rate is 8.3% and the recovery rate of 98%.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 22.95 million cases and 382,624 deaths have been reported in the U.S.

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