COVID-19 Variant B.1.1.7 Found in Spokane County
Media Contact: Kelli Hawkins | email@example.com | (509) 324-1539, c (509) 994-8968
Spokane, Wash. – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) notified Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) of the presence of one case of the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant, discovered through genome sequencing.
The B.1.1.7 variant was first identified in the United Kingdom (U.K.). Scientists say it spreads more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19.
Dr. Francisco Velazquez, Spokane County Interim Health Officer with SRHD, explained that it was only a matter of time for one of the variants to emerge here in Spokane County.
“Finding variants in our community does not change how we respond,” said Velazquez. “It does reinforce the need for everyone in our county to be diligent in following the health measures. Wear a mask, wash your hands, physically distance, and avoid large gatherings where distancing isn’t possible.”
Velazquez further explained following public health guidance is important because viruses mutate when they are transmitted from one person to another. The best way to combat mutations is to stop transmissions.
“It is even more important than ever that we all continue to consistently take steps that prevent the spread of the virus. Follow public health guidance, test if you are exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19, and get vaccinated when you are eligible,” Velazquez said.
COVID-19 vaccines currently available should provide good protection against this strain. Those who are eligible for the vaccine are encouraged to use DOH’s Phase Finder at www.findyourphasewa.org to confirm eligibility and to be directed to vaccine providers in Spokane County.
A weekly SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing and Variants in Washington State (PDF) is posted on the dashboard page of the DOH web site. It provides information about which counties have found evidence of variants and the number of variants found in Washington to date. In addition, Velazquez presented on the various COVID-19 variants during a recent SRHD Facebook Live and can be viewed here.