The Gallatin County Health Department announced on Wednesday that there are now three cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19 in Gallatin County. Health Officer Matt Kelley released the following statement:

We are aware that the specimens are from Gallatin County, and we are working with the state health department to investigate the source and timing of those specimens. It should not come as a surprise that a variant strain of the virus is in Montana. Well over 40 other states have identified the virus, so it stands to reason that it is in Montana as well.

This is a good reminder that this pandemic is not over and the importance of everyone doing all they can to help us slow down transmission. That means practicing physical distancing whenever possible, wearing face coverings in public settings, staying home when we’re sick, washing our hands, and getting a vaccine when one is available.

Should this cause worry? According to an Associated Press article, scientists say there is reason for concern and more to learn, but that the new variants should not cause alarm.

“There’s zero evidence that there’s any increase in severity” of COVID-19 from the latest strain, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan said when the variant first showed up in Britain.

The U.K. variant has been spreading in different parts of the United States since the beginning of the year. The New York Post reports that CDC data shows that there have been 2,102 cases of the UK variant, known as B.1.1.7, reported in 45 states throughout the U.S.

If you look at the COVID numbers for the United Kingdom, you'll see that just like here in the United States, positive cases of the coronavirus peaked in early to mid-January and then have fallen off precipitously since, despite the appearance of the new COVID variant.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte Tweeted Wednesday night: As the 46th state to identify this variant strain, Montana has been preparing for this for some time. I encourage Montanans to continue to practice personal responsibility to protect their health and the health of their loved ones.

In Brazos County, TX, where four cases of the variant were confirmed last week, Dr. Seth Sullivan, Brazos County's top health authority, was quoted by KARE 11-TV as saying, "We expected this. Variants are a part of viral transmission. We expect to see variants and we’re going to see more." He also said that those who have already been exposed to the original virus will recognize parts of the new variant, offering them some cross-protection.

Governor Gianforte Announces Expansion of COVID Vaccine Program For Montanans.

READ ON: See the States Where People Live the Longest

Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

Read on to learn the average life expectancy in each state.

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