Massachusetts health officials on Sunday announced 19 new cases of a COVID-19 variant and data suggesting that most of the cases detected thus far were transmitted locally.  To date, the Department of Public Health said testing at the State Public Health Laboratory has identified a total of 29 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was originally identified in the United Kingdom. Of those, just four cases are associated with individuals who recently traveled. DPH officials say that suggests "that the majority of cases identified in Massachusetts are community-acquired."The variant is known to spread more easily and was associated with a surge in cases in the UK. It was also linked to rapid spread in other countries and parts of California and Florida. In Massachusetts, DPH officials said the identified cases have ranged in age from 4 to almost 70."They include 13 females and 16 males," DPH officials announced. "There have been 17 cases in Worcester County, one in Hampden County, 2 in Middlesex County, 6 in Norfolk County, 2 in Plymouth County, and 1 in Suffolk County."DPH officials said the best way to prevent the spread of the UK variant or any others is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 overall. "New information from CDC shows that improving the fit and filtration of masks helps reduce the spread of the virus," officials wrote. "Mask fit can be improved by using a mask with a nose wire and by using a mask fitter or by knotting the ear loops and tucking the sides. Mask filtration is improved by using multiple layers."The DPH also emphasized social distancing, avoiding groups, staying home if sick, getting tested if you have symptoms and getting vaccinated when it is your turn. 
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                <strong class="dateline">BOSTON —</strong>                                          <p>Massachusetts health officials on Sunday announced 19 new cases of a COVID-19 variant and data suggesting that most of the cases detected thus far were transmitted locally.  

To date, the Department of Public Health said testing at the State Public Health Laboratory has identified a total of 29 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was originally identified in the United Kingdom.

Of those, just four cases are associated with individuals who recently traveled. DPH officials say that suggests “that the majority of cases identified in Massachusetts are community-acquired.”

The variant is known to spread more easily and was associated with a surge in cases in the UK. It was also linked to rapid spread in other countries and parts of California and Florida.

In Massachusetts, DPH officials said the identified cases have ranged in age from 4 to almost 70.

“They include 13 females and 16 males,” DPH officials announced. “There have been 17 cases in Worcester County, one in Hampden County, 2 in Middlesex County, 6 in Norfolk County, 2 in Plymouth County, and 1 in Suffolk County.”

DPH officials said the best way to prevent the spread of the UK variant or any others is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 overall.

“New information from CDC shows that improving the fit and filtration of masks helps reduce the spread of the virus,” officials wrote. “Mask fit can be improved by using a mask with a nose wire and by using a mask fitter or by knotting the ear loops and tucking the sides. Mask filtration is improved by using multiple layers.”

The DPH also emphasized social distancing, avoiding groups, staying home if sick, getting tested if you have symptoms and getting vaccinated when it is your turn.

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