Public Health Madison & Dane County has announced that a variant strain of COVID-19 has been detected in the county. The following is a release sent to area media outlets:

An individual with no recent travel history outside of Dane County was found to have the COVID-19 variant strain B.1.1.7. The B.1.1.7 variant was first discovered to be circulating widely in England at the end of 2020. Researchers believe this strain of the virus spreads more easily and more rapidly than the original strain.

“We’ve been expecting to find B.1.1.7 in Dane County, as it has appeared elsewhere in the state over the past month,” said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. “While this is the first time sequencing has confirmed the strain here, we’ve been operating under the assumption that the variant is present, and that is why we continue to stress that people not let their guard down.”

The identification of this variant in Dane County underscores the importance of strong prevention, including wearing a well-fitting mask that fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin, limiting contact with people you don’t live with, and maintaining six feet of distance from people you don’t live with.

The variant was first discovered in Wisconsin in January. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services will be sharing case counts of identified variants in Wisconsin on their website in the near future.

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