Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical officer, revealed during a Monday afternoon news conference that there are at least 17 cases of the B.1.1.7. variant of COVID-19 in Michigan.

Fox 17 reported that thirteen of those cases have been identified in Washtenaw County and four are in Wayne County. However, Dr. Khaldun says there are likely more cases of the B.1.1.7. variant that have not yet been identified.

Because of the discovery of the cases on the east side of the state, and in particular the Washtenaw County area, the University of Michigan has put a pause on all of it's athletic programs as some student athletes were found to have tested positive for the new strain.

First identified in the United Kingdom, the B.1.1.7. variant is more contagious than the normal COVID-19 coronavirus. Scientists are still gathering information. So far, the B117 strain appears to spread much more easily than previous strains of COVID-19 – some data shows that it spreads up to 70% more easily – probably due to a mutation in how the virus enters human cells.  However, it is believed that the variant does not result in a worse case COVID-19, nor is it believed to be a deadlier strain of the virus.

As we all worry about our children, the Connecticut Children's Health website says, "Up until this point, for reasons that we still don’t know, COVID-19 was more likely to infect adults than children. But some researchers have suggested that the new B117 strain may just as easily infect children as adults, perhaps due to changes in how the virus enters human cells. For example, Britain is seeing high numbers of the B117 strain in younger people under the age of 20."

The bottom line? You’ve heard it a million times by now – wash your hands, wear a mask and social distance.

 

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