UK variant could become dominant strain by March in US; Illinois officials warn

Coronavirus Watch

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.– Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and the state’s top health official warned that the CDC says the UK variant of the COVID virus could become the dominant strain by March. Earlier this month, officials announced the UK strain was found in the state.

Gov. Pritzker explained during an afternoon press briefing that the UK strain is more contagious and could result in more cases, more hospitalizations, and ultimately more deaths.

However, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the Illinois Department of Public Health director, said the UK variant poses a threat against the numbers the state has worked so hard to bring down.

“Early studies show the variant detected in the UK spreads more quickly, and that could cause or case counts to skyrocket in a very short amount of time,” said Dr. Ezike.

Gov. Pritzker did say the CDC report noted that if people follow proven measures like mask wearing and social distancing, it can tamp down the infection rates of this new variant.

There is also some new evidence that this strain carries a higher risk of death than the original strain, but the British government’s top scientific adviser stressed the data is uncertain.

However, there is growing confidence that the variant is more easily passed on than the original coronavirus strain. The British adviser said it appears to be between 30% to 70% more transmissible.

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