Skip to main content

Health officials: 'Widespread transmission' of B117 variant in Minnesota

The variant is more contagious and is becoming the dominant strain, health officials say.

A more contagious variant of the coronavirus is likely transmitting widely throughout Minnesota, according to members of the Minnesota Department of Health. 

The B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the United Kingdom, has now been confirmed through genome sequencing in nearly 500 Minnesotans who tested positive for COVID-19, and that's likely just a small piece of the puzzle. 

"We have now identified 479 cases of this variant. We estimated that 50-65% of Covid-positive specimens tested Mar. 16-20 were B.1.1.7. This is an increase compared with specimens tested Mar. 10-15 in which 38-44% of those specimens were estimated to be B.1.1.7," said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist, during a Tuesday press call. 

Lynfield said there is likely "widespread transmission" of the B.1.1.7 variant in Minnesota, adding that B.1.1.7 is "already dominating." 

"We are not identifying all cases of B117, however among those that we have identified, approximately 5% have been hospitalized. We will monitor this closely as we expand our sequencing efforts and are able to identify more cases," said Lynfield. 

News of the variant gaining a stronghold on the state comes at the same time Minnesota is making significant progress on the vaccine front. Around 25% of Minnesotans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while about 15% of the state's 5.6 million population have completed the vaccine series. 

Lynfield described the current situation as a "race" between vaccination and the spread of B.1.1.7, which she said has a "higher attack rate," meaning it can infect more people than SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that started the pandemic). 

"Most Minnesotans are not yet fully vaccinated. That means we have millions of Minnesotans susceptible to COVID-19 infection and the health impacts that go with that," said Lynfield.

"A more infectious virus spreading widely among millions of susceptible Minnesotans – some who may be tempted to relax their social distancing, masking and other precautions – can help fuel a third spike in Covid cases and a corresponding increase in hospitalizations and death."

The good news is that the vaccine has so far proved to be very effective. Of the nearly 850,000 Minnesotans who have completed the vaccine series, only 89 have tested positive for COVID-19 more than two weeks after receiving their second shot. 

None of the 89 patients who tested positive after completing the vaccine series have died. The vaccines are approximately 95% effective, so it's entirely possible that around five of 100 people who are fully vaccinated may still be susceptible. 

Next Up

Amber alert wisconsin

Amber Alert in Wisconsin: Search for missing 15-year-old girl

Police believe 15-year-old Kryssy King may be with a 22-year-old man.

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 10.18.12 AM

3 St. Paul fast food restaurants robbed in space of an hour

The thieves struck between 7:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 9.06.40 AM

What to do with the Kmart site? Minneapolis wants your ideas

The project will connect Nicollet Avenue south of Lake street and north of the Midtown Greenway, reestablishing a street grid.

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 7.53.55 AM

Crowd evacuated at end of homecoming football game in Brooklyn Park

Police blamed 'unruly teens' in the stands and some who were trying to enter the stadium.


State to help 44 Minnesota gas stations add E15 pumps

The yellow 88 button is coming to more gas stations in Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 4.54.42 PM

FBI, police investigating bank robbery at Edina's 50th and France

An ATM technician was robbed by four men at a U.S. Bank.

Ethan Glynn

Paralyzed Bloomington football player begins rehabilitation in Colorado

Ethan Glynn is at a world-renowned rehabilitation hospital.

Press Bar fire

Owner of St. Cloud bar gets 6 years for arson, ordered to repay $3M

A February 2020 fire at the Press Bar and Parlor was later determined to be an insurance job.


Bloomington, Richfield districts tighten security ahead of weekend football

Enhanced safety measures will be in place this weekend.



Minnesota health officials watching closely for omicron variant

Health leaders do not yet know how transmissible or severe the new variant is.

school, classroom

Osterholm: Time to reconsider in-person learning at schools due to B.1.1.7 threat

Minnesota is seeing rising cases and hospitalizations, with more kids being infected.


Walz responds to Osterholm's prediction of a variant-driven spike

Osterholm remains confident that the B.1.1.7. variant will cause big problems within 14 weeks.

covid-19, coronavirus

Washington Post IDs Minnesota as possible emerging COVID hot spot

Minnesota health officials say the uptick in cases is concerning.


Delta variant circulating in Minnesota, health officials urge vaccination

"The unvaccinated are still at risk for the virus – and it has a way of finding the unvaccinated."


What health officials know, don't know about Brazil P.1 variant

Minnesota health officials confirmed the first case of the P.1 variant in the U.S.

vaccine, covid, moderna

MDH: 89 cases of COVID-19 out of 800,000 fully vaccinated so far

Health officials said these cases arguably support the vaccines' effectiveness.