CHICAGO (CBS)– A new COVID-19 strain has been identified in Indiana, the state health department reported Monday.

Officials said while the new strain does not cause more severe infections, it is more easily spread.

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The Indiana Department of Health confirmed the strain was the same one found in the United Kingdom last fall.

“It’s common for viruses to mutate, and we are seeing that occur with COVID-19,” State Health Commissioner 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.”

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You can locate COVID-19 testing sites in Indiana online. 

Hoosiers age 80 and older, along with health care 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.

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