WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts now has its first confirmed case of the COVID-19 variant, the same variant that was initially discovered in the United Kingdom.
National and local health officials say they are taking this very seriously because this variant is so contagious, and even though this case is in Boston residents in western Massachusetts are scared.
“You don’t want people to panic. But you have to look at it from certain standpoint,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the NIAID said.
The new variant of COVID found in the United Kingdom is now close to home. A Boston woman in her 20s tested positive for the variant, B.1.1.7 after returning home from the U.K.
“I’m so worried about this thing. I’m so worried about COVID, especially for the kids and people don’t listen, they are taking off their masks,” Elnero Nero of West Springfield said.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said surveillance for this variant has been ongoing. They check positive tests for this specific strain.
According to the CDC, there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe symptoms or an increased risk of death, but because it is so contagious it could cause major problems.
“The more cases you have, the more hospitalizations you’re going to have. And the more hospitalizations you have, the more deaths you’re going to have,” Dr. Fauci said.
Dr. Fauci said there is still not enough research to determine if this mutation lessens the impact of the vaccine. To date, the CDC has reported 88 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant from 14 states in the United States.
There are other variants in Brazil and South Africa that health officials have started tracking.