South African COVID-19 variant identified in Illinois

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Photo Courtesy of Teresa Crawford/AP Images

Dr. Ngozi Ezike speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during a news conference on July 15. On Saturday, Illinois reached a new single-day high in COVID-19 cases.

By Ethan Simmons, News Editor

A case of the more infectious virus variant first seen South Africa was confirmed in Rock Island, Illinois, on Thursday by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Illinois has now confirmed the presence of both known virus variants, including the B117 strain from the U.K., of which several cases have been identified in Champaign County.

“We expected to see more cases of variants detected in Illinois, including the B1351 strain,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Thursday in a statement. “These variants seem to spread more rapidly, which can lead to more cases of COVID-19 and even another surge. Our best path to defeating this virus as quickly as possible remains wearing our masks and getting vaccinated when it’s our turn.”

The state has announced 22 known cases of the B117 strain in Illinois as of Thursday.

Another 69,029 vaccinations were administered on Wednesday, bringing Illinois’ vaccine total to 1,549,108 administered doses. After Wednesday’s doses, 346,773 Illinois residents have been fully vaccinated.

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