Several cases of COVID-19 variant confirmed in Champaign County

Student+Anirudh+Nandella+deposits+his+completed+University+COVID-19+test+into+a+receptacle+at+the+ARC+on+Monday.+The+new+COVID-19+B.1.1.7+variant+has+recently+appeared+in+Champaign+County.

Cameron Krasucki

Student Anirudh Nandella deposits his completed University COVID-19 test into a receptacle at the ARC on Monday. The new COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant has recently appeared in Champaign County.

By Amrita Bhattacharyya, Staff Writer

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District has verified several cases of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 in Champaign County. 

This variant has a higher rate of transmission than other SARS-CoV-2 variants and has the “potential to increase the U.S. pandemic trajectory in coming months,” according to the Center for Disease Control

First identified in the United Kingdom, B.1.1.7 has since been detected in 12 U.S. states and 30 countries, according to the CDC. 

“We are following closely to see if there is evidence that infections by this variant cause more severe disease or death. Based on the information available now, the vaccine will still be effective. Continued masking and vaccination when it is your turn remain our best path to defeating this virus as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois Department of Public Health director, according to a press release

CUPHD’s announcement came just days before a jump in campus COVID-19 cases. After two weeks with a daily average of 20 new cases of COVID-19, UI reported 66 new cases on Monday, a single-day high for the new year, and the highest daily total on campus since Nov. 30.

The 66 cases came after more than 14,000 tests for the virus, also a single-day high for the new year and the most since Sept. 4.

Monday’s tests increase the semester total to 194 cases, and the 2021 total to 635 new campus cases of COVID-19. To date, 5,278 students, faculty and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 on campus, after 1,251,787 saliva tests — including 200,000 in 2021.

[email protected]

Editor’s note: In a previous version of this article, we states Center for Disease Control instead of Centers for Disease Control. The Daily Illini regrets this error.