MADISON — Health officials are monitoring an outbreak of the B.1.1.7 or United Kingdom COVID-19 variant at a childcare center in Dane County.
The City of Madison said in a statement Monday that 21 children and childcare workers have tested positive, and 14 family members of these children or workers have tested positive, as of Monday. Several dozen more close contacts were identified from the 35 people who tested positive.
The known COVID-19 variants, including B.1.1.7, are understood by scientists as having the ability to spread more quickly and lead to more severe symptoms compared to the initial variant of the virus.
The city did not announce which childcare facility the outbreak occurred in.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports as of last Thursday, there are 139 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant known in the state. The DHS also has reported eight cases of the B.1.351 variant and two cases of the P.1 variant.
The outbreak at the Dane County childcare center would make it one if not the largest outbreak of the B.1.1.7 variant in the state. The DHS does not indicate where the cases of the variants have been discovered statewide.
Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County, said in a statement that the outbreak should encourage residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
"The vaccines are highly effective against severe disease and death from COVID-19 infection, even with the most prevalent variants,” according to Heinrich.
Most children have very mild COVID-19 symptoms. There have been three COVID-19 deaths between the ages of 10 and 19 in Wisconsin, including a 14-year-old Milwaukee boy last week.
“As more and more adults are vaccinated, I hope we are able to form a circle of protection around our children so that everyone in our community can stay healthy,” said Heinrich.