You knew it was coming, it was just a matter of when and where. Well, it's now. The Kent County Health Department says its discovered the first case of a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 in the area.

The variant is known as SARS-Cov-2 B.1.1.7. And, it's not only in Kent County, but Kalamazoo County, where it was first discovered in West Michigan, and now Calhoun County.

Being more contagious, Dr. Adam London, KCHD director of the Kent County Health Department told Fox17 he is surprised he hasn't seen more cases in West Michigan.

According to London, a woman in her 20s contracted it, but it’s not clear how. He says there is no travel history to the United Kingdom, where the variant originated last year. London says the woman has since recovered and is doing well. KCHD does not believe she spread it to anyone else, but is contact tracing.


While the symptoms and severity of the new strain do not appear to be any different than the original, London says B.1.1.7 spreads more easily which is why the mutation is cause for concern. According to London transmission is between 50 and 70 percent higher.

London worries about the impact of further spread, saying as of now, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in West Michigan are manageable.

What do we have to do to help staying safe? Wearing facial covering, social distancing, avoiding gatherings and parties, and good hand hygiene.

Here in Michigan, officials are continuing to vaccinate as many people as possible. The good news is that current research shows the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines appear to protect against B.1.1.7.


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