CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Lake County Health Department in the north suburbs is reporting the first case of the COVID-19 variant first found Brazil.
The Lake County Health Department said it is still investigating; but Dr. Sana Ahmed, Medical Epidemiologist for the Lake County Health Department said the resident tested positive after being exposed from someone who doesn't live in Lake County and who had recently traveled.
“This is the second new variant of COVID-19 to be identified in Lake County since February, and the rise of these new variants could impact the progress we have made this year,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department. “We can’t afford to let our guard down. Please continue wearing masks, washing hands, keeping 6 feet of distance from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces to keep our communities safe.”
In addition to the variant first found in Brazil, other coronavirus variants include ones first identified in the United Kingdom and in South Africa.
The health department said these variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.
The Lake County Health Department has investigated multiple cases of the UK variant identified since the first case was identified in the county on Feb. 5, most of which were related to domestic or international travel. No cases of the South African variant have been identified in Lake County to date.
“While we have identified a limited numbers of variant cases in our county, they are most certainly an underestimate of the number of actual cases,” said Dr. Sana Ahmed, Medical Epidemiologist for the Lake County Health Department. “We need our community’s help to curb the spread of the virus while we work to vaccinate our residents as quickly as possible. It is crucial to continue to follow quarantine recommendations if you have traveled or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Wearing masks, washing your hands, and keeping your distance from others continue to be effective in preventing the spread of the virus, regardless of the strain.”
So far, studies suggest that currently authorized vaccines in the United States recognize and are effective for these known variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.