With new variants spreading in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services released today a new data table that shows SARS-CoV-2 variant proportions by Health Care Emergency Readiness Coalition (HERC) region.

The variants page now also includes information on two additional variant strains of SARS-CoV-2, variants B.1.427 and B.1.429. DHS first identified these variants in Wisconsin in December 2020, and is now tracking them and displaying them publicly following the CDC’s recent classification update on March 17. These strains were recently upgraded from variants of interest to variants of concern.

“Because these new variants of concern spread more easily than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, it is important to get vaccinated when you are able. Vaccines, along with our other public health practices, give the virus less of an opportunity to spread and mutate,” said Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk in a news release.

SARS-CoV-2 variants are common as viruses change constantly through mutation. The CDC has established criteria for identifying variants that may be more worrisome than others. DHS, using CDC’s criteria, publicly reports on variants of concern.

As variants emerge, it is essential to continue public health practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Studies show that the current available vaccines provide protection against variants, but this is being closely investigated. Continue to wear a mask when in public, physically distance from others, stay home whenever you are sick, wash your hands frequently and get vaccinated when you can.