First case of new fast-spreading COVID-19 strain found in Pennsylvania

Written by on January 7, 2021

 First case of new fast-spreading COVID-19 strain found in Pennsylvania

By Tyler Pratt

January 7, 2021

Pennsylvania’s Department of Health confirms the first case of the new fast-spreading COVID-19 strain in the state. 

The variant, B.1.1.7, has a higher transmission rate. It was first found in the United Kingdom in December. Its quick spread has led to more lockdowns in the UK.

The new strain may be more contagious, but public health officials say it does not appear to be deadlier. The current FDA-approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being distributed across Pennsylvania and the U.S. make continue to be effective in preventing infections from the new variant.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health said Thursday in a press release the first case in the commonwealth tested positive in Dauphin County, “after known international exposure.” The person is said to have mild symptoms, which went away during a period of isolation.

“There is still much to learn about this new variant,” health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement. “So we need to remain vigilant and continue to urge Pennsylvanians to stop the spread by washing their hands, practicing social distancing, avoiding gatherings, downloading COVID Alert PA and answering the call [of contact tracers.]”

Levine said the state has been preparing for the new COVID variant by working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Public health experts have expressed concern the new strain could become the dominant one and spark a new wave of infections.  

Pennsylvania joins New York, Colorado, California and Florida, which have all recently confirmed cases of the variant. Some states have found instances where the person had no travel history. 

Pennsylvania Department of Health officials are scheduled to speak later this morning. 

Check back for updates to this story.

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