The Dane County Childcare Center recently had a COVID-19 outbreak with the more communicable B.1.1.7 variant from the United Kingdom.

According to Public Health Madison & Dane County contact tracing, the disease rapidly spread among children, parents and childcare workers. The City of Madison reported 35 people tested positive, including 21 children and childcare workers in addition to 14 family members of the children and workers.

UW Health spokeswoman Emily Kumlien said in an email statement to The Badger Herald that the outbreak serves as a reminder the pandemic is not yet over.

“The outbreak at a Dane County childcare facility underscores how pernicious this virus can be and it’s a stark reminder that, although there is a lot to be hopeful about, we can’t afford to let our guard down or abandon proven methods of prevention,” Kumlien said.

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As pediatric vaccines for children remain unavailable and likely months away from approval, Kumlien said people should remain vigilant of the danger the virus continues to pose.

Communications Coordinator for Public Health Madison & Dane County Morgan Finke said in an email statement to The Badger Herald that the science is clear on how best to protect against the virus no matter the strain. Finke said wearing a mask is a simple, proven way to prevent disease spread and must continue to be utilized.

“With new, more infectious variants circulating, it’s critical that your mask has at least two layers and fits snugly,” said Finke. “No matter where you are in the state, we encourage you to mask up for your family, your friends and your community.”

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The B.1.1.7 variant was first identified in the U.S. in Dec. 2020, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The variant was originally detected in the UK and has since become the dominant variant in the United States. Variants of COVID-19 spread more easily and quickly, requiring greater adherence to mitigation strategies to protect public health.

A recent CDC study found a single dose of the mRNA vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna was 80% effective in preventing Covid-19 disease two weeks after vaccination and 90% effective after the second dose.

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As of Tuesday evening, 42.3% of Dane County residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine, though there are more people eligible for the vaccine than there are doses available, Finke said. More doses are being received statewide each week, however, with plans to move forward with a phased reopening.

“Our vaccination numbers are amazing and we need to keep the pace of them up,” Finke said.

Dane County residents are advised to continue following the latest public health order.