CENTRAL MICHIGAN \u2014 The Central Michigan District Health Department recently was notified of two cases of the COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7 in its jurisdiction. The cases are the first in its area and were identified in adult females, in Gladwin and Roscommon counties. The cases were identified through routine active surveillance by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Case investigation and contract tracing have been completed. The B.1.1.7. variant appears to be more contagious, but there has been no indication that it affects the clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (also know as COVID-19) that has been circulating across the United States for months. However, a higher rate of transmission could increase the number of people who need to be hospitalized or who lose their lives to COVID-19 should the new variant begin circulating widely in Michigan. To date, the variant has been identified in 47 states and jurisdictions in the U.S. As of Sunday, March 7, there were 437 cases in Michigan. \u201cThe identification of this more contagious variant in our area reminds us that we must continue to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, and avoiding indoor gatherings,\u201d said Dr. Jennifer Morse, medical director for the health department. \u201cAnyone who has any symptoms or may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, either here or during travel, should get tested and quarantine themselves,\u201d she added. Important precautions to protect against COVID include: \u2022 Get vaccinated for COVID-19 when available and eligible. \u2022 Wear a mask covering your nose and mouth when around others. \u2022 Stay six feet apart from others. \u2022 Wash hands often. \u2022 Ventilate indoor spaces. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, have been exposed to COVID-19, or recently have traveled, get tested. You can find testing locations at mi.gov\/coronavirustest or by calling 211 or the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136, press 1. The latest information is available at michigan.gov\/coronavirus, cdc.gov\/coronavirus and cmdhd.org\/novel-coronavirus. To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit michigan.gov\/covidvaccine. Central Michigan District Health Department serves the counties of Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Osceola, and Roscommon. For more information, visit at cmdhd.org, LIKE Central Michigan District Health Department on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @CMiDHD.