SEATTLE (AP) — A new coronavirus variant first identified in England and recently found in Snohomish and Pierce counties has been detected in a King County test sample, health officials in Washington state said.
University of Washington Medicine on Friday notified King County public health officials, who said the appearance of the B117 variant is “a wakeup call,” according to a blog post from Public Health — Seattle & King County.
Viruses constantly mutate, and coronavirus variants are circulating around the globe. Scientists are primarily concerned with three variants, the one from the U.K., one from South Africa and one from Brazil that researchers believe may spread more easily. All have been confirmed in the U.S.
“As we confront this more contagious strain of COVID-19, here’s the important thing to understand: The variant strain spreads in the same ways as other COVID-19 strains, it’s just better at it,” the health department's post said. “That means we need to get better at our countermeasures: masks, physical distance, good ventilation and staying home when possible.”
No further information about the King County case was immediately available, The Seattle Times reported.
As of Friday morning, the U.K. variant had been detected in 24 states including Oregon in the Pacific Northwest.
The state Department of Health reported 2,048 new coronavirus cases and 42 new deaths on Friday. Officials said the new cases may include up to 670 duplicates.
The update brings Washington state's case totals to more than 309,000 and 4,285 deaths.