UK variant of COVID-19 found in Rock County

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab.

JANESVILLE, Wis. — Health officials in Rock County say they’ve found the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19 in the county.

The variant B.1.1.7 was first discovered in England in November, and detected in the United States in December. The first case of the variant in Wisconsin was detected in January. Health officials in Dane County said they detected the variant there in February, and the state Department of Health Services has since launched a new website to track to spread of variants.

The UK variant is believed to spread more easily and quickly than the original strain of COVID-19.

Health officials in Rock County say with the variant now being detected in the area, it is still very important for people to wear masks in public places, keep their distance and minimize indoor activities with anyone outside their household. They’re also encouraging everyone to get the vaccine when it becomes available to them.