A variant case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in Kalamazoo County.

The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department says it's confirming the first case of a COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7. has been identified in an adult over the age of 80 years old living in Kalamazoo County with no travel history. The health department says it's doing contract tracing and disease investigation to identify close contacts. The health department says all close contacts will be quarantined for 14 days and encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.

According to a release, the variant was identified as part of a "proactive submission of samples from our healthcare partners to the state public health laboratory. Without submission of the samples, the variant otherwise would not have been identified."

All viruses change over time; such changes in the virus that causes COVID-19 is known as a variant. The B.1.1.7 variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. B.1.1.7. is believed to be more contagious, but there has been no indication that it affects the clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been circulating across the United States for months. To date, the virus has been identified in at least 33 other states and jurisdictions in the U.S and two other counties in the State of Michigan, Washtenaw County and Wayne County. This is the only known case in Kalamazoo County at this time; however, it is possible that there are more that have not been identified. - Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department

The director of the Kalamazoo County Health Department, Dr. William Nettleton, says the identification of the B.1.1.7 variant in Kalamazoo County underscores the importance wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing along with getting vaccinated.

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