CDC issues warning on New COVID-19 variant B117

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Felicia Parker, 40, died after contracting the new COVID-19 variant, known as B117. It's a tragic and rare case.

"The coronavirus is doing what all viruses do, mutating as it goes," said Dr. Linda Yancey.

This new variant spreads 70% faster and is extremely contagious, but it is not more deadly than the COVID-19 strain.

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The CDC issued a warning Friday that said this new variant could become the dominant source of infection in the U.S. by March and would likely lead to a wrenching surge in cases and deaths that would further burden overwhelmed hospitals.

By Saturday, authorities in Dallas and Corpus Christi reported the first known cases of the B117 variant in their communities.

"The emergence of strain B117, while inevitable given the mobility of the modern world and the fact that we are a major transportation hub, means that there is a strain that is 70% more contagious in our community and it will grow quickly, " Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a statement.

Our local leaders explained more.

"The big concern is that, on top of the surge we are already experiencing, we're going to have this rapidly spreading through community," Yancey said.

"If this new variant means more people are infected more quickly, in turn it could lead to more people needing hospital treatment," said Dr. Sara Andrabi with the Baylor College of Medicine.

That's why Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said people should continue to mask up, social distance and practice proper hygiene, and most importantly, get the vaccine when possible.

"It means that we have to work even harder to prevent that spread," Hidalgo said.

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