Local health officials say UK coronavirus variant confirmed in Green County

Coronavirus graphic

MONROE, Wis. — Green County is the latest Wisconsin county to detect a highly-contagious variant of the coronavirus, local health officials announced Friday morning.

Green County Publich Health says it has at least two cases of the B.1.1.7 “UK” strain first discovered in England last November.

“This strain of COVID-19 is more transmissible than the original strain, meaning that it can more easily spread from person to person. This could lead to an increase in cases, which would increase the number of people who are missing work or school, as well as the number of people who may need clinical care,” Green County Public Health Director RoAnn Warden said in a statement.

The strain has been in Wisconsin since January and has been found in several counties since, including Dane County, where the variant was blamed for a large COVID outbreak at a childcare center. At least 148 confirmed cases of the variant have been confirmed by state health officials. The state launched a new dashboard to help track the spread of variants on Thursday.

Warden says the same steps to prevent the original strain of COVID-19 should be followed to prevent the spread of the new variant — including physical distancing and wearing masks, even though the statewide mask mandate was recently struck down by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Health officials are also recommending everyone aged 16 and up get the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent the spread. Recent research has found both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also protect against the UK variant.