First Case of COVID-19 Variant Linked to International Travel Identified in Lake County, Illinois

Illustration, created by Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Illustration, created by Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Lake County, Ill. — The Lake County Health Department is reporting the first case of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) variant B.1.1.7 in Lake County. The infected person had traveled internationally and was in contact with a sick person before returning to the United States in late December. Upon returning to Lake County, the person quarantined themselves from others and got tested. The person did not experience symptoms of COVID-19.

“While new cases of COVID-19 have been declining since January 2021, the emergence of this new variant right here in Lake County underscores how important it is that remain vigilant,” said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department. “We all must continue to follow the precautions of wearing masks, washing hands, keeping 6 feet of distance from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces to limit the spread of the virus.”

Viruses constantly change and new variants are expected. In addition to the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, the 1.351 variant in South Africa and P.1 variant in Brazil have recently emerged.

“We expect to see more cases of these new variants in Lake County as they seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants,” said Dr. Sana Ahmed, Medical Epidemiologist for the Lake County Health Department. “It is extremely important that you follow quarantine recommendations and get tested if you have traveled or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Answer the call of contact tracers to help us protect our communities. Wearing masks, washing your hands, and keeping your distance from others continue to be effective in preventing the spread of the virus, regardless of the strain.”

At this time, studies suggest that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines will be effective against the new strains. More studies are underway.

For more information on new COVID-19 variants, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website,



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