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MDH warns public of emerging variants as CDC gives fully vaccinated people travel go ahead

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- The same day the Centers for Disease Control announced Americans can travel if they've been fully vaccinated, Minnesota health officials report a spike in COVID cases that hasn't been seen in months.

The state reported more than 2,000 new cases Friday. It's a daily increase that hasn't been seen since early January.

"We're definitely concerned," Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann told KTTC Friday.

She credits the spike to emerging virus variants. MDH estimates 50 to 60 percent of Minnesota's virus spread is from variant B117, also known as the U.K. variant.

"There's a lot of good news, and we're really close to being in a much better place," Ehresmann said. "But, unfortunately, the variants have come in like gremlins and are putting a fly in the ointment. And we have to take that into effect as well."

Ehresmann noted MDH is tracking other states that show similar variant circulation. Her team estimates Michigan is about two to three weeks ahead of Minnesota; reporting more than 7,000 cases Friday.

"We do not want to go back there," she said. "When we see what is happening in Michigan, we see that we have a chance to learn from a state that is a few weeks ahead of us."

Minnesotans are asked to continue to wear masks, wash their hands and stay socially distant.

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Beret Leone

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