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Colorado officials suspect they've found a second case of UK coronavirus variant

Health officials in a Colorado county believe they've found a second local case of a coronavirus variant from the United Kingdom -- one that experts have sai...

Posted: Dec 30, 2020 8:23 AM
Updated: Dec 30, 2020 6:15 PM

Health officials in a Colorado county believe they've found a second local case of a coronavirus variant from the United Kingdom -- one that experts have said may be especially contagious.

That news Wednesday came a day after the first known case of the variant in the US was announced in Elbert County.

Both the confirmed case and the suspected instance involve National Guard members who had been working at the Good Samaritan Society assisted living facility in Simla, about 45 miles northeast of Colorado Springs, health officials said.

Neither are residents of Elbert County, and they are isolating outside the county, health director Dwayne Smith said. There is 'no indication at this point' that this event has gone beyond the facility and into the larger community, he said.

The men were part of a team of six Guard members deployed to the Good Samaritan Society--Simla after a recent outbreak of Covid-19 caused a staff shortage.

The first man had no known travel history, Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday. In part because of that, there is a good chance the variant has been spreading within the community, William Haseltine, chair and president of the global health think tank ACCESS Health International, told CNN on Wednesday.

The variant emerged in the UK in September, and US health officials have said in recent days as it became prevalent in the United Kingdom that it was probably already in the United States.

In California, San Diego Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said a 30-year-old man with no travel history has the UK variant of the virus.

The Colorado health department has been in communication with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about its cases. Smith did not know when the variant could be verified or ruled out definitively in the second person, he said. He was not able to comment on travel history for the men and said the state health department notified the county about the two men on Tuesday afternoon.

The 'two individuals were working at the facility in non-clinical roles,' Smith said. 'The state health department has deployed a rapid response team to the assisted living facility in Simla to test residents and staff.'

Randy Fitzgerald, Good Samaritan Society regional vice president, said they expect results from those tests in a few days. Facility officials will 'work closely with the state while following the CDC's infection control measures,' he added.

Vaccinations will take place next week, he said.

The Good Samaritan Society had a Covid-19 outbreak in the past two and a half weeks, and at least two people -- a 93-year-old man and an 88-year-old woman -- died, Smith said. A third death is being investigated, he said. The facility is home to about 25 residents.

Scientists advising the UK government have estimated the variant could be up to 70% more effective at spreading than others. Scientists were 'confident' the new variant is 'spreading faster than other virus variants,' Peter Horby, chair of the UK's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, said last week.

Health authorities from around the world have said the UK variant, though believed to be more easily spread, does not appear to be more deadly than previously identified coronavirus strains. Many countries have banned flights from the United Kingdom, and the CDC recently announced passengers from London to the United States will need a negative coronavirus test from the previous 72 hours.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3554629

Reported Deaths: 51395
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles118754221106
Riverside2891853749
San Bernardino2853342673
Orange2603483889
San Diego2589823260
Santa Clara1098411765
Kern102627811
Fresno947941412
Sacramento929441464
Alameda800881224
Ventura77238834
San Joaquin665691082
Contra Costa62164674
Stanislaus55775944
Tulare47784746
Monterey42138327
San Mateo38763515
San Francisco34061398
Santa Barbara31763407
Solano29968164
Merced28915395
Sonoma27954298
Imperial26843589
Kings21951218
Placer19713231
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15390209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12760185
Shasta10944174
Butte10915160
El Dorado9095100
Napa897668
Sutter884597
San Benito574359
Yuba573336
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Tuolumne394659
Nevada393274
Mendocino379643
Amador344441
Humboldt316033
Lake313440
Glenn221023
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128736
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3947
Trinity3675
Sierra990
Alpine810
Unassigned00
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Slightly cooler temperatures and breezy north winds are on tap in your Friday forecast. Winds will get stronger on Saturday, but will diminish on Sunday. We'll be mostly dry through the middle of next week, but showers could return late next week.
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