Beacon Staff 

New strain of COVID-19 found in Snohomish County

Two cases detected for the mutation first found in the U.K.


Last updated 1/31/2021 at 11:43pm

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The new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 is in Snohomish County.

The B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 named SARS-CoV-2 was detected in specimens from two Snohomish County residents, health officials announced on Jan. 23. It is likely that other cases exist and will come to light through ongoing surveillance, according to a news release from the Snohomish County Health District.

The advice is the same: social distance, masks, washing hands, maintaining a social bubble that is as limited as possible.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no conclusive evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. The CDC estimates SARS-CoV-2 will become the dominant strain in the U.S. within a few months. Data they provided show that, through Jan. 22, 195 detections are present in 22 states.

"The Snohomish Health District had already instituted standard case investigation, isolation, and contact tracing prior to learning about these cases," said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. "Containment protocols are no different for B.1.1.7 variants than they are for all other cases of COVID-19. Follow-up investigation is underway to learn more about these cases and the individuals who tested positive for this strain."

The B.1.1.7 variant, first detected globally in September 2020, emerged with an unusually large number of mutations and has now spread significantly in London and southeast England. This variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants.

"While finding the B.1.1.7 variant is concerning, we knew it was only a matter of time before we found evidence of it here in Washington. That said, the health and safety of all Washingtonians remains our top priority," said Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH. "Now that this variant has been found, it underscores the absolute importance of doubling down on all the prevention measures to protect Washingtonians against COVID-19."

Health officials recommend the following:

• Wear a mask, even with people you see regularly and in your smallest social circles;

• Keep gatherings outside whenever possible;

• Avoid any social gatherings indoors, but if participating, wearing a mask and ensuring windows and doors are open to maximize ventilation;

• Wear a mask while in the car with other people, including with family who do not live in your household;

• Wash hands often, not touching your face, and carrying hand sanitizer for use when water and soap are not available;

• Stay home if you are sick or if you have been exposed to COVID-19; and,

• Get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms or were exposed to someone who tested positive.

Anyone who suspects COVID-19 due to exposure or symptoms can visit the Department of Health website or for additional information, or contact their local care provider.


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