SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – There are now 19 cases of the coronavirus variant B117 in Georgia, the Department of Public Health said Monday.
The state’s first case was announced on Jan. 5. Officials say so far, no other COVID-19 variants have been identified in Georgia.
The cases have been identified in eight males and 11 females ranging from 15 to 61 in age.
There are no cases confirmed locally — all are in the metro Atlanta area in Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Paulding counties. But DPH says knowing these locations doesn’t provide a clear picture of where the variant is across the state.
“Just because it has not been identified in a particular city or county does not mean it is not there — individuals could be infected anywhere in the state, or in some cases out of state,” DPH stated.
Officials recommend the same preventative measures against COVID-19 for this variant: wear a mask, maintain social distance, wash your hands frequently, avoid large gatherings, get a vaccination when eligible and follow state and public health guidance.
“The CDC has said this U.K. variant is likely to be the dominant strain in the U.S. by sometime in March,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey “We must ensure we are taking every precaution right now to prevent transmission of COVID and to avoid a surge in hospitalizations and loss of life.”
DPH says preliminary epidemiologic information suggests this variant is significantly more contagious and may increase the risk of death in those who become infected.
Both Pfizer and Moderna say their current vaccines appear to work against this variant.