Coronavirus generic electron microscope
FILE - This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab.  (NIAID-RML via AP)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A variant of the COVID-19 cornavirus has been identified in Jefferson County.

Dr. Sarah Moyer, Louisville's chief health strategist, released the news during an online news conference Tuesday morning, after reporting lower case numbers in the city.

"We also had our first reported variant case in Jefferson County yesterday," Dr. Moyer said. "So just know that between that and Super Bowl and people tired of staying home, these numbers can change direction at any minute."

Moyer said the British B117 variant typically does not produce more severe outcomes than the standard COVID-19 virus, but it is much more contagious.

"So if before, if you would have infected one or two people if you had COVID, now it's a greater number, like four or six," she said. "So it really stresses the importance that we really need to be wearing our masks, even if you've been vaccinated."

She went on to ask the public to consider double-masking or wearing N95 masks, if they are available. Moyer also re-stressed the importance of social distancing and working from home, if possible.

Mayor Fischer reiterated Moyer's plea.

"I want to remind people too, while this variant is not more deadly, more people are going to get the virus, and as more people get the virus, more people are going to die, as well," Fischer said. "So that's the real danger of these highly transmittable variants that are out there right now."

The news came after Moyer announced that this week, the city saw its lowest case count since November.

"We are still in the red at 2,202 cases added last week, and deaths still remain very high, but just like our case counts have started to trend down, we are hopeful that less families will lose a loved one to COVID in the coming weeks," she said.

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