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Large gathering blamed for introducing new COVID-19 variant into Washoe County


A large gathering is being cited as the source for the first documented case of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant in Washoe County.

The state’s public health lab recently confirmed B.1.1.7, first detected in the U.K., in the area.

A female in her 30s attended a gathering with more than 60 people from multiple states, the Washoe County Health District announced today.

“So far there have been reports of 17 additional COVID-19 infections linked to this event, though not all of the 17 cases are Washoe County residents,” officials said. It is a reminder that even with downward trending cases, and reduced deaths from the coronavirus disease, COVID-19 is still having a major impact not just locally but worldwide.

“This is a stark reminder that we are not out of the woods with COVID-19,” said Kevin Dick, district health officer for Washoe County. “We suspected that this variant which originated in the U.K. was present in Washoe County weeks ago but it’s now confirmed. We are recommending that people not attend large gatherings, and follow our guidance and the Governor’s directives because we have seen how quickly the virus can spread.

“It’s important for people to remain vigilant against COVID-19 and always cooperate with disease investigators so we can conduct adequate contact tracing to ensure that we help limit the spread of the virus,” Dick added. 

The U.K. variant is considered to be more highly transmissible — although, current vaccines are said to help prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

The CDC notes that “scientists from U.K. reported evidence that suggests the B.1.1.7 variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants.” More studies, however, are needed to determine if this is actually the case.

Source: Washoe County Health District

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