COVID Variants

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Note:  Variants have been identified in Jackson County.  Please be aware and note that the Jackson County Health Department will be working to contact trace / investigate anyone who may have had contact with a positive variant case. Public Health needs assistance from the public in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 viruses and variants in our community. Case investigation and contact tracing will occur if it is believed that you have, or have been exposed to, a COVID-19 virus variant.

Please see the information  below regarding public health actions. 

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Press Release of Positive Case of B.1.351 in Jackson County

Public Health Advisory regarding COVID Variants in Jackson County

CDC Science briefing on COVID-19 variants: 

CDC COVID-19 Variants of concern page:

Viruses change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. 

  • A number of mutations have been identified, however, the variant first identified in the United Kingdom (U.K.), called B.1.1.7, is the first “Variant of Concern” for COVID-19 identified in Michigan. 
  • B 1.351, first identified in South Africa, has also been identified in Michigan.
  • P.1 has been identified in the United States but not yet found in Michigan.
  • Additional variants are expected to be identified. Visit the CDCs New COVID-19 Variants web page for additional information.

The MDHHS  Bureau of Laboratories (BOL) looks for the variant among people who test positive for COVID-19.

  • As people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are interviewed by public health, they are asked about recent travel history. Public health then tries to obtain samples from those who have a history of travel from a country where the variant is common.
  • The BOL requested that hospital laboratories send residual samples from COVID-19 positive tests to MDHHS for genetic sequencing.
  • The University of Michigan laboratory can also conduct genetic sequencing, which is how the B.1.1.7 variant was discovered at the university. The MDHHS BOL and the University of Michigan lab are in contact daily to review results.

When a variant of concern is identified, state and local health departments will take action to protect public health.

  • Contact tracing / case investigation is prioritized for people who have had contact with variant case(s).
  • A 14-day quarantine (without option for ending quarantine early) is recommended for close contacts of people who have been infected with the variant.
  • Identify areas where others may have been exposed, and target testing and education to those areas.
  • Increase testing and ensure focused testing in areas of exposure:
    1. Pop-up testing rapidly held in communities/settings where the variant has been identified.
    2. When possible, individuals who may have been exposed are specifically invited to testing.
  • Increase targeted messaging on prevention: Reiterate the appropriate use of masks and add face shields to masks if people are concerned.
  • it is very important for the public to understand the need to follow the recommendations set forth by MDHHS and the local health department in order to keep the variant COVID virus from spreading.  There is still too much information about the COVID variants that is unknown.

What you need to know

Protect yourself and others against COVID-19 by: 
  • Wearing a mask when out in public
  • Staying at least 6 feet apart (social distancing)
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Washing your hands often and
  • Getting a vaccine when it is available to you.