Thirty-five people linked to one Dane County child care center have tested positive for the coronavirus, including with a more infectious variant, the joint Madison and county health department said Monday, highlighting the need for vaccination and continued testing.
Public Health Madison and Dane County reported that 21 of the center’s children and workers have tested positive, along with 14 family members of those children or workers. The agency did not name the child care center or the municipality where it’s located, or say how many students and staff the facility has.
“We know the variants are more infectious, and younger children can’t be vaccinated yet, so this is an important reminder that we must all continue to take precautions,” Public Health director Janel Heinrich said in a statement. “Get tested if you are showing any symptoms, get your children tested if they are showing symptoms, and get vaccinated as soon as you can. The vaccines are highly effective against severe disease and death from COVID-19 infection, even with the most prevalent variants.”
The variant responsible for at least some of the center’s infections is the B117 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom.
Most of the children associated with the outbreak had very mild symptoms, public health officials said. Symptoms of COVID-19 that are common in children can include fever, cough, fatigue, headache, muscle pain and nasal congestion. The agency urged parents not to mistake such symptoms for seasonal allergies but to have their children tested and ruled out for COVID-19 first. The agency said asymptomatic children who have a known exposure or household case should also be tested.
Existing COVID-19 vaccines are considered effective against coronavirus variants, and everyone in Wisconsin age 16 and older is now eligible for the vaccine. People can sign up on the state Department of Health Services vaccine registry at vaccinate.wi.gov. To find additional vaccination options, visit publichealthmdc.com/vax.
As of Thursday, of the 9,124 coronavirus cases whose genomes have been fully sequenced in Wisconsin, 139 have been the B117 variant; eight have been the B1351 variant, first identified in South Africa; and one has been the P1 variant, first identified in Brazil, according to DHS.
Some other Midwestern states have been hit harder. Michigan, for example, has seen 1,237 cases of the B117 variant, while Minnesota has seen 526, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Unvaccinated travelers returning to Wisconsin from recent travel are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines, which include getting tested three to five days after returning from travel and staying home and self-quarantining for seven days after travel.