The more contagious COVID-19 variant first found in the United Kingdom has surfaced in Lake County, health officials said Saturday.
“While new cases of COVID-19 have been declining since January, the emergence of this new variant right here in Lake County underscores how important it is that remain vigilant,” Mark Pfister, executive director of the Lake County Health Department, said in a news release.
“We all must continue to follow the precautions of wearing masks, washing hands, keeping 6 feet of distance from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces to limit the spread of the virus,” he said.
The person who came down with variant B.1.1.7 had traveled internationally and was in contact with a sick person before returning to the United States in late December, Pfister said. Upon returning to Lake County, the person quarantined themselves from others and got tested. The person did not experience symptoms of COVID-19.
The federal Centers for Disease Control website says 17 cases of the variant have been identified in Illinois.
Viruses constantly change and new variants are expected, the health department said. In addition to the B.1.1.7 variant, the 1.351 variant in South Africa and P.1 variant in Brazil have recently emerged.
“We expect to see more cases of these new variants in Lake County as they seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants,” Dr. Sana Ahmed, medical epidemiologist for the Lake County Health Department, said in the news release. “It is extremely important that you follow quarantine recommendations and get tested if you have traveled or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Answer the call of contact tracers to help us protect our communities.”
Studies suggest that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines will be effective against the new strains.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that on Friday, Illinois set a new one-day vaccination record with a total of 63,080 doses administered. The 7-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 49,909 doses. In total, 1,294,498 vaccines had been administered as of Friday night.
The state also reported 3,062 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease and 60 additional deaths. The numbers are roughly on a par with those reported in recent days. The dead include 19 people in Cook County, five in DuPage County, three in Kane County, one in Lake County, one in McHenry County and two in Will County.
The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test results from Jan. 30 to Feb. 5 is 3.4%.
As of Friday night, 2,271individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 485 patients were in the ICU and 246 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
For more information on COVID-19 variants, go to cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant.html.
Source: The Daily Chronicle