New COVID variant discovered in Spokane County

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The CDC is closely following the progression of the new coronavirus variants in the U.S. The B.1.351 variant, first identified in South Carolina, has now shown up 21 times in 10 states, while the P.1 variant first found in Minnesota has been reported five times in four states. But there's another strain, B.1.1.7, which is ringing alarm bells: It’s up to 1,523 reported cases in 42 states as of Feb. 18.

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SPOKANE, Wash. — A new variant of the coronavirus has been discovered in Spokane County through genome sequencing.

The Spokane Regional Health District said one case of the COVID-19 B.1.427 variant and four cases of the B.1.429 have been discovered. This variant was initially detected in California in July 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said this variant is concerning, as early research suggests it may be more infectious and could potentially cause more severe disease than the initial, dominant strain of SARS-CoV-2.

“Finding variants in our community does not change how we respond,” said interim Health Office Dr. Frank 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 said the most effective way to combat mutations is to stop transmissions, which can be done by getting vaccinated, social distancing and wearing a mask.

On May 1, all people above the age of 16 in Washington will become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

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