New COVID-19 strain found in New Haven County

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Photo by: Kristina Chaney '23

The COVID-19 pandemic took a turn with UK variant B117, which was found in Connecticut in early January, and may soon hit Staples as the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate jumps to 11%.

Kristina Chaney ’23, Staff Writer

Connecticut governor Ned Lamont announced on Jan. 7 that the new UK-discovered variant of COVID-19 was found in New Haven County, just 35 miles from Staples High School.

The B117 COVID-19 variant has infected two people between the ages of 15 and 25, both of whom had recently traveled out-of-state to Ireland and New York. The variant was found in at least 50 countries and eight US states.

“If you are diagnosed with COVID in Connecticut, you should assume that you have this variant,” Deirdre Gifford, Connecticut commissioner of public health, said

The variant is evidenced to be around 50% more contagious than the previous strain, according to studies done by various United Kingdom epidemiological organizations such as The Peter Doherty Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

We can do this together as a community.”

— Anna Fitzpatrick, Staples nurse

“The new COVID-19 variant strain could enter the [Staples] community just like the novel COVID-19,” Anna Fitzpatrick, Staples nurse, said. “However, the likelihood of transmission within school remains low given the safety measures and mitigating factors that are already in place,”

The B117 COVID-19 strain has not been found to perpetuate more severe symptoms or to contribute to a higher death rate; however, the increased infection rate will likely increase the case and death counts due to hospital overcrowding. In Connecticut, the COVID-19 infection rate has jumped to 11%, but the amount of B117 COVID-19 cases versus SARS-CoV-2 cases remains undisclosed.

“I feel anxious about the new COVID strains hitting Connecticut,” Miriam Hurley ’23 said. “But [I] still try to get outdoors and meet friends in a safe way,”  

The most common and widely recommended COVID-19 safety policies are wearing masks, standing six feet apart and staying at home when possible, all of which are still necessary to prevent spread of the new COVID-19 variant. 

“As of now, the mitigating measures of social distancing, remaining six feet away from others, mask-wearing, and good hand hygiene are the best ways we know of to control the spread of the virus,” Fitzpatrick said.