New COVID-19 variant identified in U-M community


Three individuals in the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor community have tested positive for the COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7, which data suggests spreads more easily and quickly.

This includes the first known case of the variant identified earlier by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. All identified cases are connected. 

All individuals are in isolation and are experiencing either no symptoms or mild symptoms. Additionally, all close contacts have been identified, tested and are currently in quarantine.

“While not unexpected, this means being even more vigilant with the public health measures that are known to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” says Preeti Malani, U-M’s chief health officer. “The Community Surveillance and Tracking Program offers convenient testing to all members of the University of Michigan community.”  

The variant strain was identified as a result of regular university testing followed by additional testing in U-M labs to identify it as the B.1.1.7 variant. 

University health officials are working closely with state and local public health partners and continue to recommend that all undergraduate and graduate students in the Ann Arbor area — even those taking all their classes remotely — be tested weekly to help slow the spread and contain the virus.

Testing through the Community Sampling and Tracking Program is available to the broader U-M community as well. Sign up for testing through two simple steps: register or update your information, and select a test time and date

Testing is especially important for individuals in group-living environments such as residence halls, co-ops, fraternities, sororities or other group houses, and for those who have traveled recently. All students returning to campus and the Ann Arbor area are asked to schedule COVID-19 testing within 72 hours of arrival.

As shared previously with the U-M community, data suggest this variant spreads more easily and quickly, so it is important to maintain vigilance and follow public health best practices. These include:

  • Avoid large social gatherings. Current public health orders restrict indoors gatherings to no more than 10 people.
  • Wear a face covering on campus and when around anyone outside your immediate household.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 weekly.
  • Wash hands frequently. 
  • Watch for symptoms, and isolate and seek medical care immediately if symptoms develop.
  • Use the ResponsiBLUE app daily.

Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.