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How Wayne & Washtenaw counties are dealing with new coronavirus variant

Posted at 8:12 AM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 08:12:48-05

(WXYZ) — Health officials in Wayne County are investigating four more potential cases of the new COVID-19 variant known as B.1.1.7.

There are already four confirmed cases in the county and 13 more in Washtenaw County, where the new variant was first reported in metro Detroit earlier this month.

The patients in Wayne County are all over 35 and two had recently returned from traveling abroad, as had the first confirmed patient in Washtenaw County. Now more than ever, doctors are stressing the importance of getting vaccinated if you're eligible and keeping those masks on.

“There are some reports that this variant is more contagious and possibly even deadlier," Dr. Shaun Jayakar from Ascension St. John Hospital said.

Now, health officials in Wayne County say there could be potentially eight cases of the new variant. On Monday, they reported four confirmed cases.

– 41-year-old man who traveled internationally and has left the U.S. again
– 42-year-old woman
– 35-year-old woman
– 35-year-old man who had traveled internationally

This comes as Washtenaw County si now reporting 13 confirmed cases, the first in a woman who had recently traveled to the U.K.

One or more of the patients with the new variant went to the Meijer on Ann Arbor-Saline Rd. between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and Briarwood Mall between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17. Officials are urging everyone in that area to get tested.

Some of the 13 infected with the variant attend the University of Michigan, and U-M President Dr. Mark Schlissel said in a campus letter the number of cases may continue to rise, and the affected students are in isolation.

This comes as counties and area health systems continue to ramp up vaccinations as much as they can.

“As time goes on we will be introducing vaccination clinics around the community to start vaccinating our senior citizens 65 and older," Jayakar said.

For the time being, that will be by invitation only at Ascension St. John while they wait for more supply. Keep in mind, the new variant does respond to the vaccine, so that's good news.

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