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First case of more contagious COVID-19 variant confirmed in Georgia

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The memo:

  • The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed the state's first case of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7.
  • This variant has been found to be significantly more contagious.
  • However, evidence so far has not shown the variant to be more severe or deadly.

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) on Tuesday announced the confirmation of Georgia’s first case of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus recently discovered in the U.K., several other countries and various U.S. states.

The variant was discovered during analysis of a specimen sent by a pharmacy in Georgia to a commercial lab.

According to a release, the Peach State resident is an 18-year-old male with no travel history and is currently in isolation at home. DPH is reportedly working to identify close contacts of the individual and will monitor them closely and test them for the variant.

So far, there is no evidence that the B.1.1.7 variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.

“The emergence of this variant in our state should be a wake-up call for all Georgians,” warned DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H. “Even as we begin roll out of a COVID-19 vaccine, we must not let down our guard and ignore basic prevention measures – wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands frequently.”

DPH, in collaboration with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will continue to watch for emerging COVID-19 variants and will provide more information as it becomes available.

Sean Ross is the editor-in-chief of The Georgia Memo and Yellowhammer News. You can reach him via email at Sean@GeorgiaMemo.com