Highly contagious COVID-19 variant confirmed in Cook County

A highly contagious new strain of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Cook County, according to local public health officials.

Cook County Public Health Supervisor Grace Grainger confirmed with WTIP April 6 that the B117 variant of the new coronavirus is in Cook County. The variant is 50 percent more infectious than the original strain, meaning it spreads more easily between people, Grinager said.

Statewide, public health is finding that it also spreads more easily among children, she added.

The notification of the variant’s arrival to Cook County was first sent to the local school district and families with children at ISD 166. Grinager said April 7 on WTIP that the confirmed case of the variant in Cook County did not have a direct connection to the local schools. The notification about the variant was sent to the school district as B117 is known to spread more readily in children than the original strains of the virus, she added.

That being the case, public health officials are asking all local families to continue to do their part in following public health advice as the pandemic continues, including wearing a mask in public places, continuing to socially distance, screening children before school each day for symptoms of COVID-19, if you feel sick get a COVID test and stay home from work or school, wash your hands frequently and avoid large crowds. This advice is for both people who are vaccinated and those who are not, Grinager said.

The audio below is Grinager speaking with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs during a conversation that aired live April 7 on the Daybreak program.