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Variant of COVID-19 virus confirmed in Pierce County

TACOMA, Wash.—Health officials confirmed the first case of a COVID-19 variant in Pierce County in an existing COVID-19 case.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department had already completed case and contact investigation for this positive case. They had mild symptoms and completed their isolation period.

Our state and federal partners have been conducting additional surveillance testing on COVID samples to identify cases with variant strains. The patient had the B.1.1.7 variant, also called the UK variant because the strain was first discovered in the United Kingdom.

“This new information does not change how we fight COVID-19,” said Health Director Dr. Anthony L-T Chen on Sunday. “Everyone needs to continue to do their part to minimize the spread—and get vaccinated when it is your turn—so we can put this pandemic behind us.”

Our cases remain at record levels. Especially as the focus turns to COVID-19 vaccine, it is critical for people to continue to take these steps to stop the spread of COVID-19:

Wash your hands frequently.
Maintain physical distancing.
Wear your mask.
Limit your trips.
Keep gatherings small.
If you’re sick, stay home.
Get a test if you experience symptoms or were exposed.

Viruses always change as they spread. Several known variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 exist. The variants are often named for the regions where they are first detected, such as UK, South Africa, Brazil. We expected the first case of the UK variant in Pierce County and prepared for its spread since it was discovered. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently predicted the B.1.1.7 strain will be the predominant strain in the U.S. by March.

The variants spread more easily from person to person. The CDC says no evidence shows the variants cause more severe cases of COVID-19 or an increased chance of death, but they can produce more cases.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment to protect public health. We are one of roughly 244 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

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