COVID-19 B1.351 Variant detected in Dickinson County

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KINGSFORD, Mich. (PRESS RELEASE/WJMN) – On April 13, the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department (DIDHD) was notified that through genetic testing the B1.351 variant has been detected in a positive case within Dickinson County.

This variant, commonly referred to as the South African Variant, is approximately 50 percent more transmissible than the standard SARS-CoV-2 virus. The B1.351 variant can lead to faster spread of the virus and potentially increase numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Ruth Manier, director of Community Health Services states, “the presence of this particular variant is alarming because it is less responsive to our known treatment options, like monoclonal antibody treatments. There are concerns about immunity protection from vaccinations and natural immunity following a COVID infection, this could possibly mean an increase in reinfections for those who have already experienced a COVID infection.”

DIDHD says additional public health efforts are required once the variant has been identified to slow the spread within the community.

“This is our second variant identified in our community within the last two weeks. Our concerns are for the health, safety, and well-being of our community. We are noticing that cases being identified are in a younger population. It is important to remember that we do not understand what the long-term consequences may be of experiencing an infection,” added Manier.

DIDHD stresses working together to get vaccinated, adhere to social distancing, mask-use, hand hygiene, avoiding large social gatherings, and other mitigation strategies.

DIDHD has extended vaccine eligibility to anyone over the age of 16. Adults over the age of 18 are eligible to schedule an appointment. Parents who are interested in scheduling an appointment for their 16- and 17-year-old children should call DIDHD at 906-774-1868 (Dickinson County) or 906-265-2950 (Iron County).

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