ILLINOIS – The Illinois Department of Public Health officials reported Monday eight new cases of a more contagious COVID-19 variant in Illinois.
The latest cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, bring the total number of cases in Illinois to nine, health officials said.
Officials reported the initial single case in Chicago on January 15.
“Early studies have found that this variant spreads more easily than what we have seen with the current prevailing variant”, said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in a press release.
Health officials say, the nine total cases range in age from 12 to 63 years and were reported in Cook County.
“We expected to see more cases of this variant crop up, and people should know that the best way to protect themselves is to continue wearing a mask, washing hands often, staying six feet away from others and getting vaccinated when it is your turn,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
The announcement comes as Illinois moves into a new phase of the state’s vaccinations program, Phase 1B, which allows those 65 and over and frontline essential workers and to begin making COVID vaccine appointments.
According to The Illinois Department of Public Health, they will continue to work with CDC and public health experts to better understand the potential impact of this variant and monitor additional cases.
“We are following closely to see if there is evidence that infections by this variant cause more severe disease or death. Based on the information available now, the vaccine will still be effective”, said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.