MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Tennessee Department of Health reported Thursday a new, potentially more contagious strain of COVID-19 has made its way to the Volunteer State.
According to TDH, seven specimens were sent to the CDC for analysis and two were confirmed to be the B117 variant. TDH previously reported five confirmed cases but provided updated information a short time later.
Tennessee is among more than 20 states reporting COVID-19 cases caused by variants, according to TDH. State health officials have not said where in the state the variant was found.
The CDC reports the new strain could be more contagious than other known strains of the novel coronavirus. Experts say this variant can be twice as transmissible as the original strain. While it doesn’t appear to cause more severe illnesses, it could spread more quickly and worsen the strain on hospital systems.
“Viruses constantly change and new variants are expected to occur over time,” reads a statement from TDH. “This does not change our response to COVID-19 in Tennessee, but serves as a reminder of the need for continued vigilance and practice of simple actions we can all take to prevent further spread of COVID-19: wash hands frequently, limit gatherings, maintain social distance, wear a mask in public and get vaccinated when you qualify to do so.”