North GA — The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) announced yesterday there are 19 cases of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 identified in Georgia, including one case in Cherokee County, located in the North Georgia Health District. This COVID-19 variant is commonly known as the UK variant because it was discovered in England, and it is now in several other countries and U.S. states. Currently, this is the only new variant in Georgia.
The other Georgia cases were identified in Carroll, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Paulding counties.
Case investigation and contact tracing to identify, inform and monitor anyone who was in close contact with these individuals are ongoing. However, officials advise that the virus could be identified anywhere so we must take the same precautions as if a case had been identified nearby.
“We are still not certain whether this variant of the virus causes more severe illness than the more common coronavirus, however, we do know that it seems to spread more easily and quicker,” said Zachary Taylor, MD, MS, district health director of District 2 Public Health and interim health director of North Georgia Health District 1-2. “With the presence of a more contagious variant, we must be even more vigilant to protect against it and continue taking the necessary steps to avoid spreading the virus – wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid gatherings.”
According to the CDC, variants that spread more easily and quickly could lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases would put more strain on a community’s health care infrastructure that could lead to more hospitalizations and potentially more deaths.
Public health officials continue to remind North Georgians that they can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, including this variant, by following these simple steps:
- Wear a mask in public places.
- Keep at least six feet away from other people who don’t live with you.
- Avoid large gatherings.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
- Clean surfaces frequently.
- Distance yourself from others if you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or have symptoms of illness. Especially distance from people who may have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions, such as serious heart conditions, chronic lung conditions, asthma, severe obesity and those who are immunocompromised.
For more information about COVID-19, go to http://bit.ly/COVID19-Updates-NorthGA, https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.