Mutating Coronavirus – how new COVID strains will affect us

Kathy Georgieva, Bottom Line Writer

The pandemic is not over yet. Just as cases seemed to be getting under control, recently a new coronavirus variant has been identified in Britain. The CDC has announced that this strain of COVID is likely to become the dominant strain in the United States by March, leading to a potential surge in cases and deaths.

The “Super Strain” Takes Control in the U.S.

A new variant of the coronavirus, first detected in September 2020, is now prevalent in England and various countries around the world. Hospitals are having trouble occupying the large swarm of patients, forcing England, Wales and Ireland into another tough lockdown. By the end of 2020, health officials have noted the first case of the new COVID strain in the United States.

According to a CDC study, this “superstrain” is 50% more transmittable and contagious than other variants. This raises a cause for concern as an increase in cases may put a burden on health care resources, leading to more hospitalizations and deaths. 

As of Friday, January 15, only 0.5% of cases came from this variant. Although the strain’s prevalence is low, a surge of cases will likely be seen in early 2021. 

The Institute of Health Metrics predicts that the United States will hit a peak at the beginning of February, with cases steadily decreasing into Spring. They also predict that by May, some states will be close to herd immunity. However, scientists are continually monitoring cases, and data could change at any time. By March, half of the recorded cases will likely come from the new variant, even as the United States rushes to supply vaccines. Many Americans are hoping that this does not push them down, but it is too early to tell.

Fighting the virus

This variant has also made its way to Illinois. In a report from The Chicago Tribune, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced and confirmed the importance of staying vigilant these next few weeks as scientists monitor and learn more about the new strain. 

Pritzker and other health officials have emphasized to the public the importance of following strict safety protocols to keep people safe. Everyone is staying hopeful, especially as Illinois is moving into Phase 1B of its vaccination plan. This phase allows frontline workers and people over the age of 65 to receive vaccines. 

Another glimmer of hope is the proposal of a $400 billion plan. According to the New York Times, this plan is part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic package, aiming to offer financial relief to local governments, businesses and other individuals. 

As concerns over new strains rise, the CDC and other health officials urge the public to take safety precautions seriously. Now more than ever, everyone must take his or her part to try and combat this virus.