Note from City Hall Regarding the B117 Variant of COVID-19
The B117 variant of COVID-19 is quickly spreading across Carver County, specifically in youth, in this latest round of outbreaks in the area. To help prevent the spread of the variant, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommended a two-week pause to youth sports in Carver County starting March 8 through March 22, 2021. According to data from the MDH, cases have been directly linked to youth sports — both school and club teams. In an effort to share more information about how this B117 variant of COVID-19 is impacting the community, the City of Victoria has put together a list of answers to frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the B117 Variant and the Impact on the Community of Victoria
Why is the B117 variant of COVID-19 more dangerous?
According to officials at the Carver County Department of Health, the B117 variant of COVID-19 is more concerning than the original strain of COVID-19 for several reasons.
What is the current situation with COVID-19 in Carver County?
- The variant is up to 50 percent more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19.
- The viral load is stronger in the variant so it may make people sicker than the original virus.
- The variant is affecting younger people, not just as carriers, but also making them sick.
Weekly cases of COVID-19 increased by nearly 80 percent in Carver County from February to March. These rates are approaching those seen in October 2020 and almost a third of these cases are in people under the age of 20.
As of March 10, 2021, health officials have identified 114 overall linked cases associated with the B117 cluster identified in Carver County according to the MDH. Cases have been linked to 9 schools, 3 community sports facilities, 2 sports clubs/organizations, and 1 childcare facility in Carver County. More information will be provided by MDH as it becomes available. What is the pause?
In an effort to stop the spread of the fast-spreading variant, the MDH recommended
that youth sports in Carver County go on a pause for two weeks (March 8 through March 22, 2021) and that other counties implement active screening, testing, enforcement of masking, and encourage no gatherings related to the sports teams. If sports teams cannot pause activities, it is recommended that they implement a testing protocol. The MDH will continue to monitor the situation and additional measures may be needed.
To stop the spread to others around the youth sports teams, MDH recommended several other measures for Carver County:MDH Recommendations for Schools
MDH Recommendations for Gyms, Fitness Centers, and Pools
- Maintain hybrid learning model with full physical distancing for secondary students.
- Consider pause on extracurricular activities where full distancing cannot be maintained.
- Reinforce mitigation strategies among school communities.
- Review of COVID-19 preparedness plan and compliance for school setting, associated activities.
- Limit gatherings outside of household.
How does the pause impact City services?
- Strict active screening for symptoms or recent exposure to COVID-19 for employees or other staff.
- Strict adherence to masking.
- Pause group classes.
- Review of COVID-19 preparedness plan and compliance.
- Consider not attending if at high risk for severe disease.
The only area of services provided by the City of Victoria that is impacted by the pause are those provided at the Victoria Recreation Center. The Victoria Recreation Center is still open for use, specifically the fitness center, open gym, open pickleball, and the walking track. To create a safe environment for use, appointments
are required, capacity is limited, and the strict masking policy remains in place. Several items are impacted though, including:
How does the pause impact the community?
- Ice Arena: The ice arena is closed during the pause, with the exception of varsity hockey. The Ice Arena is operated by the Eastern Carver County School District and they have implemented mitigation measures and spectator restrictions for varsity hockey.
- Open Skate: Open skate at the ice area will not be offered until further notice.
- Lessons: The Stars Tennis lessons are cancelled for March 9. A partial refund will be issued.
- Fitness Classes: All fitness classes will be held virtually.
The Council and staff at the City of Victoria understand that the group of people most impacted by this pause are the younger members of the community. By complying with the pause and supporting the compliance of the pause by the Eastern Carver County School District, the City hopes that the community can keep these younger members safe. What can the community do to stop the spread of the variant?
With safety measures followed by all in the community, the spread of the B117 Variant of COVID-19 can be prevented. When you go out, make sure to wear a mask, wash your hands, stay at least 6 feet away from others not in your household, and stay home if you feel sick.
Family members with school-age children that attend school, sports, or activities in person should get tested for COVID-19 every 2 weeks. There is a new temporary COVID-19 testing site
at the Chanhassen Recreation Center for March 11–13 and March 18–20.
No-barrier testing with no cost to community members is available at COVID-19 community testing sites.