B.1.1.7 variant identified at state prison in Ionia


IONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — A case of the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant has been identified inside a state prison in Ionia.

The Michigan Department of Corrections announced the single case at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility off Bluewater Highway in a Wednesday release.

MDOC says the Bellamy Creek case is the first time the variant has been identified in any state prison.

MDOC says it will be testing every inmate and worker at Bellamy Creek daily to track whether the variant spreads within the prison.

The state has now recorded 61 cases of the variant in 11 counties. B.1.1.7, which was initially identified in the United Kingdom, is not currently believed to lead to more serious cases of COVID-19, but it does spread more quickly.

Health officials say the way to slow the variant’s spread is to follow standard mitigation protocols like hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing. Also key will be vaccinating people as quickly as possible to both prevent the spread of the variant and new ones from mutating.

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