The Indiana Department of Health today announced that a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been identified in Indiana.

The strain, which was identified through testing at the Department of Health laboratory and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the same one identified in the United Kingdom last fall. It does not cause more severe infections, but it is much more easily spread.

“It’s common for viruses to mutate, and we are seeing that occur with COVID-19,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box. “Because this strain of the virus can be transmitted more easily, it’s more important than ever that Hoosiers continue to wear their masks, practice social distancing, maintain good hygiene and get vaccinated when they are eligible.”

The daily update of COVID-19 statistics shows Vigo County adding 66 new cases and one COVID-19 death for a total of 10,161 cases with 167 deaths. That death occurred Saturday in a woman age 80 or older.

Statistically, 9.5 percent of Vigo County residents – or almost 1 in 10 – have tested positive for COVID-19 as of today.

“It is important to note though that people only have antibodies from getting the virus for up to 3 months less if they had mild to no symptoms. This means many of the people who have been positive are at risk for reinfection,” said Roni Elder, health educator and media coordinator for the Vigo County Health Department.

To date, 567,338 Indiana residents are known to have had the novel coronavirus, an increase of 3,726 from Sunday. Of those, 8,643 are confirmed to have died, an increase of 30 from the previous day. Another 373 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by the state and occurred over multiple days.

To date, 2,762,573 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 2,752,524 on Sunday. A total of 6,140,884 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

To find testing sites around the state, visit www.coronavirus.in.gov and click on the COVID-19 testing information link.

Hoosiers age 80 and older, along with healthcare workers and first responders, are now eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine. To find an appointment, go to https://ourshot.in.gov.

Nearly 194,000 Hoosiers have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 24,000 have received both doses and are fully vaccinated. The Indiana Department of Health has created a vaccine dashboard hat will show the latest number of vaccines administered. The dashboard will be updated daily beginning today.

Also today, the Indiana National Guard announced that about 150 Guardsmen along with personnel from the state health department will help distribute, transport and administer the COVID-19 vaccine to Hoosiers statewide.

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