New coronavirus variant discovered in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 17: Samuel Cohn gets a COVID-19 test administered by a member of the Wisconsin National Guard at a COVID-19 test center set up at Miller Park on November 17, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Wisconsin recently reported a

The state of Wisconsin said it has discovered the new COVID-19 variant.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the strain, referred to as B.1.1.7, was identified in a Wisconsin patient Jan. 12.

The strain was first discovered circulating in England in November and December of 2020. Researchers believe it spreads more easily than the original COVID-19 strain. There is no evidence, however, that it is more severe or increases the risk of death.

"We already know that COVID-19 is easily transmitted through respiratory droplets, and with this new variant appearing to be even more infectious, taking preventative measures like wearing a mask and physically distancing are even more important," said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm.

State Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard said a mutation like this was "expected" and "not unusual."

Earlier this week, the state of Minnesota also identified the variant in its state.