CLEVELAND — For months health officials nationally and across Ohio have been warning the public about the COVID-19 variants. They're cautioning people to take them seriously as many of them are more contagious than the strain that we've been dealing with for a year.
Currently, there are 61 cases of the U.K. variant in Ohio, also known as the B117 variant. That's up from the 33 cases reported Sunday.
"As the numbers of these variants continue to grow, they really remind us that COVID-19 isn't giving up," said our state's chief medical officer, Dr. Vandherhoff.
A CDC-backed study shows the B117 variant growing by 7% every day in the US.
"It's like survival of the fittest. and this particular variant is the fittest right now," said USF Health virologist, Dr. Michael Teng.
But, how do you know if you're infected with one of the variants? Well, the short answer is, you may not.
COVID tests can detect the variants currently at play, but according to Janet Hamilton, the executive director of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, said due to federal rules lab officials can't tell patients or their doctors whether someone has been infected by a variant. She said public health officials know the county where a case has popped up but can't do an investigation and give appropriate notification needed to slow the spread.
The study, which shows the variant growth, also predicts that the UK variant will be the most dominant strain in the US by later this month.
But there are things you can do to protect yourself.
"The good thing though is it's still susceptible to vaccines, it's still susceptible to masks, to hand washing to social distancing," said Dr. Teng.
Health officials said the vaccines currently being distributed throughout the nation work against the variants. They're encouraging people when it's their turn to get one to follow through.