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New ‘super spreader’ strain of COVID-19 confirmed in Colorado

U.S. Army Pfc. Audrey Robles administers a COVID-19 test.(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)
December 30, 2020

The United States’ first case of a new “super spreader” strain of COVID-19 was confirmed by state health officials in Colorado on Tuesday after the variant was first identified in the United Kingdom last week.

Colorado health officials said the case involved a male in his 20s “who is currently in isolation” and has “no travel history.”

“Public health officials are doing a thorough investigation,” according to a press release from Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “The individual is recovering in isolation and will remain there until cleared by public health officials. The individual has no close contacts identified so far, but public health officials are working to identify other potential cases and contact through thorough contact tracing interviews.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was also notified of the case.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is aware of Colorado’s report of the first U.S. case associated with the U.K. variant of COVID-19,” CDC spokesperson Belsie González told CBS News. “In addition to the reported case in Colorado, we expect that there will be additional cases that are likely to be detected in the coming days.”

Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said Colorado detecting the variant is a “testament to the sophistication” of the state’s response, as well as its scientist and lab operations.

“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. We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels,” said Governor Jared Polis, echoing Ryan’s comments. “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 household.”

According to CBS News, public health labs regularly detect coronavirus variants in patients, with many mutations not impacting how it spreads or its symptoms

Following the U.K.’s discovery of the new strain, President Trump’s administration implemented rules requiring travelers from Great Britain test negative for COVID-19 prior to boarding U.S. flights.

This week, researchers in the U.K. found that the variant was more transmissible, but not more deadly. It has also not lead to more hospitalizations or increased the likelihood of reinfection.

According to both Pfizer and Moderna, the vaccines will likely provide protection against the new strain, having tested their shots against several variants.