4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020


How Michigan is preparing to fight the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7

Posted at 5:28 AM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 23:23:29-04

(WXYZ) — The U.K. COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7, is now the dominant strain in the United States, and Michigan has the second-most infections in the country.

The CDC said on Wednesday it has boots on the ground in the state, looking to control the virus. It comes as the state said it won't impose any new restrictions while cases has surged in the last couple of weeks.

"I would advocate for stronger mitigation strategies as you note to sort of decrease the community activity, ensure mask-wearing and we're working closely with the state to try and work towards that," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said.

Related: MAP: Search COVID-19 variants by county across Michigan

Walensky advocating, among several initiatives, for more pop-up testing sites in Michigan and testing twice a week for youth sports.

Her team found the UK variant prevalent in the U.S. Studies suggest it's more contagious, possibly more dangerous and deadlier than the original strain.

More than 2,100 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been confirmed in Michigan, but there are likely many more cases than that as the state sequences for the variant.

Related: Here's the difference between the U.K. & South African coronavirus variants

Of the 2,100 cases, 133 are in Oakland County, nearly 200 in Wayne County, 157 in Macomb County and about 90 in Detroit.

The Michigan Department of Corrections has more than 500 cases.

"Nothing is off the table in those conversations in terms of the kind of support we can provide, and we'll keep all options open," the White House said.

The White House is sending $90 million to Michigan to improve and expand COVID-19 vaccine programs in areas with the greatest need.

The CDC is pledging to support state and local health departments, as well as community-based organizations.

"It's not that it's mutating more quickly. However, what is important to understand is that the more people are infected, the more time opportunities that virus has to mutate," MDHHS Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Lyon-Callo said.