State officials on the lookout for COVID-19 variant

WILMINGTON — Delaware Division of Public Health officials are keeping their eyes peeled for the emerging variant of the COVID-19 virus.

“We are certainly looking for it,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We have not found the variant yet.”

The new variant of the virus was first discovered in the United Kingdom and has been found in 12 different states so far. The Center for Disease Control is reporting a total of 76 cases of it in the United States as of Wednesday.

Early research into the mutation has shown it spreads more easily. Many scientist have cited the new variant as why cases are surging across the U.K.

Delaware has recorded 68,065 positive cases of COVID-19, as of Wednesday at 6 p.m. Dr. Rattay is concerned about what a more contagious version of the virus would do to Delaware’s numbers.

“The implications are concerning,” Dr. Rattay said. “Although it does not cause more serious illness, it is more contagious. If and when we begin to see spread of it, it’s certainly possible we’ll see a higher level of infectious spread in the state. There’s potential for another surge.”

Two of Delaware’s neighboring states have already found the variant. Pennsylvania has reported one positive case of it while there have been two in Maryland, according to the CDC.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan confirmed the presence of the variant on Tuesday at the beginning of his news conference. Gov. Hogan said he had just learned of the cases and didn’t have many details, the Associated Press reported.

The positive cases of the variant were confirmed in a couple who live in Anne Arundel County who are now quarantining at home, Gov. Hogan said. One of them had traveled to multiple continents.

Pennsylvania confirmed its first case of the variant on Jan. 7 in Dauphin County. According to a statement by Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, the individual tested positive after known international exposure and completed isolation at home.

To date, it is still the only confirmed case of the variant in Pennsylvania.

Other states close to Delaware who have discovered the variant are New York and Connecticut who have four and two cases respectively. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday two confirmed cases in New York City while Connecticut found its two cases of the variant in two New Haven County residents on Jan. 7.

California has recorded the most confirmed cases of the variant stateside with 32, followed by Florida’s 22. Texas, Indiana, Colorado, Georgia, Wisconsin and Minnesota have each reported at least one case of the mutation.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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