As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the United States, a stronger version of the virus that quickly spread across the United Kingdom has made its way across the pond — and landed in Colorado.
A man in his 20s who tested positive for COVID-19 was found to have the coronavirus variant, despite having no travel history. He is currently in isolation in Elbert County, Gov. Jared Polis’ office said in a tweet, and officials are working on contact tracing.
“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,” the tweet said.
The new and potentially more infectious COVID-19 strain, B.1.1.7, was first found in the U.K. and led officials to lock down most of the country after it rapidly spread through southeastern England, including London.
The strain has since been identified in at least 17 other countries, including Australia, Canada and Spain. The European Union temporarily closed all borders to the U.K. last week, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced Thursday that any travelers from the country would have to test negative for COVID-19 before coming overseas.
However, health experts warned that the strain was likely already in the U.S., a prediction that turned out to be true with Colorado’s announcement.
While scientists in the U.K. believe the strain is more contagious, they said that there is “no evidence” that it causes more severe illness or is more deadly.
They have also said that the newly approved vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, will be just as effective against the new strain.
Polis said that Colorado health officials will “closely monitor this case,” and urged residents to continue following COVID safety precautions.
“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 households,” he said.
That vaccine can’t be deployed soon enough.