Michigan adds 2,800+ COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Coronavirus

A rendering of coronavirus via the CDC.

Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — State health officials reported more than 2,800 new coronavirus cases over the weekend with 20 new deaths.

Over the two days, Sunday and Monday, the average number of new confirmed cases is ~1,421 per day.

On Saturday, state officials reported the first Michigan case of new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7. The strain was first reported on the UK, and was found to be more contagious. No reports indicated the strain was any more deadly.

The more contagious COVID-19 variant first reported in the U.K. will likely become the predominant strain in the U.S. by March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The CDC warned that the strain, called B.1.1.7, could lead to a spike in cases across the U.S. It has already been detected in ten states.

The strain has been circulating in the U.K. since September and has quickly become the dominant COVID-19 strain in the region.

“These changes in the viral composition are expected,” Nolan said. “At the moment we have not seen any dramatic genetic shifts of concern.”

Here are some fast facts about the new coronavirus strain:

  • The novel strain is called SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01 or “B.1.1.7.”
  • It was first discovered in September in the southeast of England, and may be responsible for the recent spike in cases in the region.
  • B.1.1.7 reportedly accounts for 60% of recent infections in London.
  • The strain has been identified in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Japan, Lebanon, India, the Netherlands Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
  • There are reports that the novel strain is also circulating in China.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the novel strain could be as much as 70% more transmissible.
  • The variant is not related to the new strain, announced on Dec. 18 in South Africa. This strain emerged independently of that in the U.K.
  • It’s not known why the variant emerged in the U.K. first. Per the CDC, new viral variants “often emerge or disappear, and that may be the case here.”
  • Other theories argue that the virus is emerging because it spreads more easily from human to human.
  • According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “There is no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.”
  • Trump’s coronavirus vaccine czar, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, said there is an “extremely low” chance the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will not be effective against the variant.
  • SARS-CoV-2 mutates regularly, with about one new mutation in its genome every two weeks. Many of these mutations are “silent,” meaning not expressed in the D.N.A.
  • In November, the CDC launched the National SARS-CoV-2 Strain Surveillance program to “increase the number and representativeness of viruses undergoing characterization.” Upon full implementation in January, every state will send the CDC at least 10 samples every two weeks for sequencing and characterization.
  • The discovery of the new variant led the CDC to issue new rules on Christmas Day for travelers arriving to the U.S. from the U.K., requiring they show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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