DHS confirms UK variant of COVID-19 found in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. — Health authorities have confirmed that a more contagious COVID-19 variant first identified in the UK has made its way to Wisconsin.

The variant, referred to as B.1.1.7, was identified on Tuesday, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. There is no evidence that the new variant causes more severe illness or risk of death.

“We already know that COVID-19 is easily transmitted through respiratory droplets, and with this new variant appearing to be even more infectious, taking preventative measures like wearing a mask and physically distancing are even more important,” DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said.

Officials said the variant was identified through routine surveillance and genome sequencing.

“Mutations among viruses are very common. It’s not unusual – in fact, it’s expected. As time goes on in the pandemic and the virus continues to replicate on a large scale, the genetic sequence of the virus will change,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard.

The variant was first found in the U.S. in Colorado roughly two weeks ago.