ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Scientists say this variant of the novel coronavirus, B.1.1.7, could become the leading form of COVID-19.

As of late December, there were 17 mutations of this coronavirus.

In Arkansas, Secretary of Health Dr. José Romero said they are concerned about B.1.1.7 and know it’s here in the country. It can be detected using diagnostic tests.

“We have sent [to the CDC] eight specimens to be sequenced,” said Dr. Romero. “The virus will get here, it’s just a matter of time. These variants have different levels. This particular one is quite transmissible. This could lead to another spike.”

One way to help deter the spread is to follow the three Ws.

Dr. Romero: wear a mask, wash hands, watch distance.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that a quick response must be taken against this variant, if that does not happen then B.1.1.7 will become the main variant in the United States by March. Dr. Romero said the same during the weekly COVID-19 briefing

“The increased transmissibility of this variant requires an even more rigorous combined implementation of vaccination and mitigation measures (distancing, masking, and hand hygiene) to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2. These measures will be more effective if they are instituted sooner rather than later to slow the initial spread of the B.1.1.7 variant,” the CDC stated in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

A higher rate of transmission leads to more cases … increasing the number of people who need clinical care … exacerbating an already strained health care system … resulting in more deaths.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It appears it’s 10% to 60% more transmissible because infected people carry the virus in their noses and throats and they likely infect others through breathing, talking, sneezing, coughing — similar to the first virus, but this variant is more transmissible, according to a preliminary genomic characterizations report written by a group of researchers. They, like the CDC, recommend this variant, “requires urgent laboratory characterization and enhanced genomic surveillance worldwide.” Researchers have found no evidence that it makes a person sicker than COVID-19, the concern is that it spreads quicker.

The CDC and Dr. Romero reports the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines should be effective against the variant.


  • Sept. 20, 2020: Kent
  • Sept. 21, 2020: London


  • Dec. 28, 2020: San Diego, California. Male, 30s, with no travel history, according to Governor Gavin Newsom.
  • Dec. 29, 2020: Elbert County, Colorado. National Guardsman who was deployed to the Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Simla. A second case is now being investigated involving another National Guard soldier. As of Jan. 19, there are six reported cases.

Dec. 31, 2020: Marion County, Florida: A man in his 20s with no travel history. As of January 12, the state has 22 cases. Ninety-two cases as of Jan. 25.

B.1.1.7 SPREAD IN 2021

Jan. 1-3: CALIFORNIA. San Diego County and San Bernardino have six cases, according to the governor. As of January 18, the state has 40 cases. Ninety cases as of Jan. 25.

Jan. 4: NEW YORK. Saratoga County. The man, in his 60s, had not traveled. As of Jan. 12, the state has four reported cases. As of Jan. 25, 22 cases.

Jan. 5: GEORGIA. The person is 18 years of age, with no travel history, and he is in isolation at home, per the Georgia Department of Public Health. Six cases now as of Jan. 25.

Jan. 7: CONNECTICUT. Two New Haven residents, between the ages of 15 and 25. The cases are not related, one had recently traveled to Ireland and the other to New York. Four total cases.

Jan. 7: PENNSYLVANIA. Dauphin County. The person had traveled internationally.

Jan. 7: TEXAS. A Harris County man, between 30-40 years old, had no history of travel and is hospitalized with B.1.1.7. Three days later, a Nueces County man, between 60-70 years of age, has contracted the variant. He recently traveled to the U.K where he contracted the disease. He’s in his 30s, has not traveled, and is hospitalized. Seven cases as of Jan. 25.

Jan. 9: MINNESOTA. Health officials reported five cases from four different counties, Hennepin, Dakota, Carver, and Ramsey. The ages range from 15 to 37, and the illness was detected between Dec. 16 and 31. Two people traveled internationally, one did not travel, two had unknown travel history, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Jan. 11: INDIANA. One case and its health department did not give additional information. Four cases are now reported as of Jan. 19.

Jan. 13: NEW MEXICO. Two cases. A woman, in her 30s, who is not hospitalized, has tested positive for B-1.1.7. This case is a close household contact of the first case, according to the NM Department of Health.

Jan. 13: MARYLAND. Two cases.

Jan. 13: WISCONSIN. One case.

Jan. 15: UTAH. One case has been reported. He is between the age of 25-44, from Salt Lake County, and tested positive last month.

Jan. 15: ILLINOIS. The case was identified by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. A follow-up case investigation by the Chicago Department of Public Health found that the person had traveled to the UK and the Middle East two weeks prior to the diagnosis. Illinois Department of Public Health statement. Nine cases as of Jan. 25.

Jan. 15: OREGON. A Multnomah County resident, with no known travel history, has tested positive.

Jan. 16: WYOMING. The first case of the COVID-19 variant has been identified in a Teton County adult male, the WDH reported. Two total cases as of Jan. 25.

Jan. 16: LOUISIANA. The new variant has been found in the Greater New Orleans area and the person reportedly had traveled outside of the state, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Jan. 16: MICHIGAN. The first case of B.1.1.7. has been identified in Washtenaw County. The woman had recently traveled to the United Kingdom and she is in quarantine. As of Jan. 25, 17 cases have been identified.

Jan. 17: MASSACHUSETTES. A Boston resident in her early 20s is the first case of the COVID-19 variant. The woman had traveled to the U.K. and became ill after she returned. She tested negative prior to leaving the U.K., according to the Massachusetts Department of Health. There are three cases of the variant.

Jan. 21. TENNESSEE. There are two confirmed cases of B.1.1.7, of seven specimens sent to the CDC.

Jan 23. WASHINGTON. The state health department found two cases of the COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7. The people are from Snohomish County.

Jan. 23. NORTH CAROLINA. The state has the first identified case of the COVID-19 variant. NCDHHS.

Jan. 25. VIRGINIA. A Northern Virginia with no recent travel history has the B.1.1.7 variant. Virginia Department of Health statement.

Jan. 4, 2021: The strain is in more than 50 countries, including the U.S., here are 30+ of the countries where the variant has been found:

  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Pakistan
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom