INDIANAPOLIS -- A new strain of the COVID-19 virus has hit Indiana.
The Indiana Department of Health said Monday it was identified through testing at the state laboratory and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the same one found in the United Kingdom last fall.
It does not cause more severe infections, but it is much more easily spread.
"It’s common for viruses to mutate, and we are seeing that occur with COVID-19," State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said. "Because this strain of the virus can be transmitted more easily, it’s more important than ever that Hoosiers continue to wear their masks, practice social distancing, maintain good hygiene and get vaccinated when they are eligible."
Also Monday, the state health department reported 3,726 new cases and 30 new deaths. Overall, 8,643 Hoosiers have died from the novel coronavirus.
In Allen County, another 142 residents tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 30,835 cases. No new deaths were reported, so the total number of deaths remained at 512 Monday.
The DeKalb County Health Department confirmed 67 new cases of COVID-19, for a total 3,312 cases. A total of 71 DeKalb residents have died from COVID-19. No new deaths were reported Monday.
The state positivity rate is 16.5%, meaning those are the percentage of all tests coming back positive. While that rate is growing, the state’s hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients have dropped in the last week. There are currently 2,537 patients admitted with COVID -- the lowest since early November.
Some Hoosiers also continue to sign up for the vaccine.
Hoosiers age 80 and older, along with healthcare workers and first responders, are now eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine. To find an appointment, go to https://ourshot.in.gov.
Nearly 194,000 Hoosiers have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 24,000 have received both doses and are fully vaccinated.
Jim Chapman of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.