COVID variant identified in Branch County

The Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency has announced the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 has been identified in a Branch County COVID-positive resident.

The individual has been in isolation since initial COVID-19 diagnosis. Variant identification was learned after further testing of the initial specimen called “sequencing,” according to agency health officer Rebecca Burns.

All three counties in the tri-county area have now had a sample identified as the B.1.1.7 variant.

Burns said the COVID-19 virus, as expected with a coronavirus, has changed over the past year. The new variant originated in the United Kingdom and has been found throughout the United States, with the first case in Michigan recorded in January.

The variant spreads more easily and is believed to be more contagious. However, there is no indication that it affects the clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the original strain.

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