HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — Health officials have confirmed the first case of the UK variant of COVID-19 in Houston County. Across the country, more than 30 states including Georgia have now detected the more transmissible variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
"Because this variant definitely is more transmissible, at least 30 to 40 percent transmissible, maybe more than that," Infectious disease specialist Dr. Jennifer Hoffman said
Hoffman works with Coliseum Medical Centers and says the UK variant is not only passed easily, but could also be more dangerous.
"It might be more deadly as well, so we have to buckle down and be that more careful," Hoffman said.
Statewide, the CDC shows 45 cases of the variant throughout the state of Georgia. Closer to home, the North Central Health District has started contact tracing to limit the spread of the variant after a case was identified Monday. The district warns there could be more cases than the first case confirmed.
"I would say there is probably already other cases within in our own community and that is simply the way that screening for this," Spokesperson for the North Central Health District Michael Hokanson said.
So what can we do to stay safe from the UK variant?
"The biggest thing that this variant identified in our district means for us, and not just public health, but everybody in the community, we definitely need to focus on being in compliance of those public health guidelines for stopping the transmission of COVID-19 or at least reducing our risk of transmission," Hokanson said.
That means wearing a mask, sanitizing your hands, and social distancing is guidance that health leaders say will limit the spread of the virus until you can get the vaccine.
"I think it is likely to become the dominant variant over the next month or two, and all I can hope is that we vaccinate enough high-risk people before it spreads," Hoffman said.