Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland.NIAID

First U.S. Case of New COVID-19 Strain Has Been Confirmed

The first reported U.S. case of the COVID-19 variant that’s been seen in the United Kingdom has been discovered in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis announced Tuesday.

The Colorado State Laboratory confirmed the case and notified the CDC.

Polis said in a statement, “Today we discovered Colorado’s first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely.”

The individual is a male in his 20s who is currently in isolation in Elbert County and has no travel history. 

Public health officials are doing a thorough investigation. The individual is recovering in isolation and will remain there until cleared by public health officials. The individual has no close contacts identified so far, but public health officials are working to identify other potential cases and contacts through thorough contact tracing interviews.

“There is a lot we don’t know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely. We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I want to thank our scientists and dedicated medical professionals for their swift work and ask Coloradans to continue our efforts to prevent disease transmission by wearing masks, standing six feet apart when gathering with others, and only interacting with members of their immediate household.”

Scientists in the United Kingdom believe the B.1.1.7 variant to be more contagious than previously identified strains of the SARS-CoV-2 variant, though no more severe in symptoms. In addition, the currently approved vaccines are thought to be effective against this variant. 

“The fact that Colorado has detected this variant first in the nation is a testament to the sophistication of Colorado’s response and the talent of CDPHE’s scientist and lab operations,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We are currently using all the tools available to protect public health and mitigate the spread of this variant.”

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