There are three new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, creating concern. Not only are these variants different from the original virus, but they are different from one another. Early research indicates:

  • Some evidence suggests two variants spread more easily and rapidly and maybe more contagious, but do not seem to cause more severe illness or symptoms. 
  • Some variants have a higher viral load which might make it easier to spread. 
  • Some variants may be less vulnerable to antibodies generated by the original COVID-19 infection or a COVID-19 vaccine. 

All three strains have now been detected in the US. One strand, called B117, is thought to be more transmissible because patients have a higher viral load, meaning viral particles shed more easily through coughs and sneezes. This variant is being tracked by the CDC. 

Experts believe the current vaccines will be protective against B117.

Consider the following when you are thinking about your COVID-19 business plan and personal plan: 

  • What is the virus spread in your community or the region you operate? Compared to any month in 2020, spread was recently at its highest rate. 
  • We are in the beginning stages of vaccine distribution and administration, and there still needs to be a second round for those who have gotten the vaccine. This is going to take several more months to complete. 
  • What is the availability of medical treatment for COVID-19 cases? Try this resource or your own county health department site for more information. 
  • Are you requiring employees and clients to wear face coverings? Your state or local laws may require face coverings, and since the new variants seem to spread more easily, wearing face coverings is a good practice to protect your continuing business. Read more about effective and ineffective face coverings, double masking and more. 

The spread of COVID-19 continues. The vaccines are being distributed, although slowly. The new variants of COVID-19 seem to be transmitted more easily than the original virus. It seems clear that a best practice for businesses and individuals is to continue to wear face coverings, distance from others, wash hands often and sanitize when you cannot wash.

Check out our COVID-19 Resource Center for more resources and information.