Colorado confirms first case of COVID variant in U.S.

By Derek Draplin | The Center Square

Colorado has detected a case of B.1.1.7, the COVID variant recently found in the United Kingdom, marking the variant’s first confirmed case in the U.S., state officials said Tuesday.

Gov. Jared Polis’ office said the Colorado State Laboratory confirmed the COVID variant in an Elbert County male in his 20s, and reported the case to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“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,” Polis said in a statement. “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.”

The COVID variant is “predicted to potentially be more rapidly transmissible than other circulating strains,” according to the CDC, but there’s no evidence it leads to more severe illness. Last week, the U.S. instituted travel restrictions requiring any passengers flying from the U.K. to receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of entering the country, following reports of the variant’s spread overseas.

Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir said Monday that health officials suspected the COVID variant was “likely here” already, according to The Hill.

The infected Colorado individual is in isolation and has no travel history, the governor’s office said.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said the state is “currently using all the tools available to protect public health and mitigate the spread of this variant.”

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