California COVID-19 variant found in Grand |

California COVID-19 variant found in Grand

Grand County has seen at least two cases of a COVID-19 variant, but local officials say its presence does not warrant immediate concern for the county.

Grand County Public Health Director Abbie Baker told county commissioners on Tuesday that the health department had been notified by the state lab of the presence of the California-Denmark COVID-19 variant.

First identified in Denmark and now widely present in California, this strain is known as B.1.427 or B.1.429. A couple studies suggest it may be more contagious than earlier forms of the virus, but scientists are still investigating.

The local case was found in a Feb. 15 PCR test, which detects the virus’ genetic material. Variants can only be detected through PCR testing.

This is not the same variant as the one first identified in the United Kingdom. That variant is known as B.1.1.7, which is spreading much faster than the California variant and causing concern among health officials.

It is also not the same as the more contagious South African variant, which was identified for this first time in Colorado this week in Buena Vista.

According to Baker, the B.1.1.7 variant has not been found in Grand at this point, though more than 100 cases have been identified elsewhere in Colorado.

A second case of the California-Denmark variant was reported in Grand on Feb. 19. However, Grand has not seen any upticks in hospitalizations due to this variance, and the county currently has only one resident hospitalized due to COVID-19.

These variant cases require a longer investigation from public health officials, but Baker said the two cases were working with public health as far as she knew.

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