Cook County Public Health and Human Services sent a letter to school families Tuesday informing them a more contagious strain of COVID-19 has been identified in the county.

The coronavirus variant B117, first identified in the United Kingdom, is 50% more infectious, spreading more easily among people.

The letter to parents says public health, statewide, is finding this variant also spreads more easily among children. This has been evident in the outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Mesabi East School students in March.

“The good news is that we know what will work to limit the impact of B117 on families and the community,” the letter said. “The schools are doing an excellent job with following the safety measures in their preparedness plans. We need all families to continue to do their part in following public health advice.”

Cook County Public Health is encouraging everyone 16 and older to get vaccinated. Teens ages 16-17 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, which they can receive at a vaccination event at North Shore Health on Thursday. Those eligible for the vaccine can register at Anyone under age 18 needs a parent or guardian present at the time of vaccination. Parents are encouraged to sign up for vaccination at the same time as their children.

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Parents with questions about COVID-19 or the vaccines can connect with Cook County Public Health at or 218-387-3605.