Nearly three dozen people connected to a southern Wisconsin childcare center have tested positive for coronavirus, with multiple individuals testing positive for a more-contagious variant strain of the virus.
According to health officials in Dane County, a county in Wisconsin that is home to the state capital of Madison, at least 35 people have tested positive for strains of coronavirus, including 21 children and workers at the childcare facility.
Another 14 family members of children and staff members have also tested positive, with health officials identifying several dozen more close contacts through contact tracing efforts.
It was not revealed how many individuals tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus, a strain that originated in the United Kingdom.
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That variant is believed to be more contagious and potentially more deadly than previous variants of the virus, according to research studies in the UK.
According to public health data, 139 cases of the UK variant have been identified in the state of Wisconsin, with another eight cases of the variant first identified in South Africa also being reported by health officials.
One case of the variant first found in Brazil has also been confirmed.
“We know the variants are more infectious, and younger children can’t be vaccinated yet, so this is an important reminder that we must all continue to take precautions," said Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County, in a statement. “Get tested if you are showing any symptoms, get your children tested if they are showing symptoms, and get vaccinated as soon as you can. The vaccines are highly effective against severe disease and death from COVID-19 infection, even with the most prevalent variants.”
According to a press release, most of the children associated with the outbreak have very mild symptoms of the virus. It is unclear whether any of the individuals infected have developed serious symptoms at this time.
Health officials are encouraging residents to sign up for coronavirus vaccinations, as all residents 16 and older in the state are now eligible for appointments. Those age 16 and 17 can only receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine, while those 18 and older can also sign up for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.