GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kent County resident has contracted the more contagious COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, according to the Kent County Health Department.
County health officials announced the discovery Sunday afternoon. It’s the second confirmed case of the variant that’s been found so far in West Michigan, just days after it was confirmed in Kalamazoo County.
The Kent County resident is a woman in her 20s and she has since recovered, the health department says. Officials are unsure where the woman contracted the variant, but at this point, they do not believe that she has given it to anyone else.
Officials in Kalamazoo County said the resident there with the virus viriant is an 80-year-old who has not traveled outside the area.
The variant, which was originally identified in the United Kingdom, is more transmissible than the dominant strain but so far does not appear to cause more serious illness.
“Fundamentally, this is a race for the coverage of our population; a race that pits vaccination efforts against the transmission of infections,” said Kent County Health Department Director Dr. Adam London. “The impact of COVID-19 infections, the B.1.1.7 variant is giving the virus increased velocity.”
London says as of Sunday, 10% of the Kent County population has received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. He said the health department has been using all of the shipments they’ve gotten from the state and federal government.
“Here in West Michigan, we have lots of places that are providing it, they just need to have more vaccine to serve more people quickly,” London said.
London emphasized the importance of continuing to take precautions such as hand washing and wearing masks.
“The good news is there are things that everyone can do to make it difficult for this virus to spread even though it is more contagious and those remain to be the same things that we’ve learned to do so well over the past year,” London said.
Kent County health officials are urging anyone who has traveled outside of Michigan in the last two weeks to get tested.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there are now 30 confirmed cases of the variant in the state.
—News 8’s Dana Whyte contributed to this report.