MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Since late January, state health officials have seen 114 coronavirus cases in Carver County, including 29 of the more contagious B117 variant first detected in the U.K.

“It’s not just an increase in sheer numbers of cases but recognizing that there were commonalities between all of the cases,” Minnesota Department of Health Infectious Disease, Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division director Kris Ehresmann said.

READ MORE: Widow Of Hockey Ref Who Died From COVID Thinks He Contracted It During Carver Co. Games

The Minnesota Department of Health says the majority of cases have been traced to school-sponsored and club sports activities, like hockey, basketball and wrestling.

But there are 15 counties across the state with confirmed cases of variants.

“This is not just a Carver County problem,” Ehresmann said.

READ MORE: State Urges Testing In Carver County Amid Variant Outbreak

They’re keeping an eye on eight counties that have seen a spike in their number of COVID cases — Renville, Clay, Ottertail, McLeod, Blue Earth, Benton, Mower and Morrison — which flags health officials to sequence positive cases for any variants. But those areas have had more isolated cases compared to Carver, where health officials say they could offer specific mitigation strategies.

The state has identified 188 cases of the B117 variant in Minnesota, and two of the P1 variant first found in Brazil. Ehresmann says it’s a race against the clock to get people vaccinated.

“The more transmission that we see, the more opportunity there is for the virus to mutate,” she said. “We take that very seriously because we are so close to the end.”

MDH set up a new temporary testing site at the Chanhassen Recreation Center in response to the increase in cases.

Kate Raddatz