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New 'More Contagious' Variant Of COVID-19 Found In Colorado

DENVER (KCNC-TV) -- A new variant of the COVID-19 virus, which is considered more contagious, has been discovered in Colorado. Gov. Jared Polis and state health officials announced Colorado's first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, which was previously discovered in the United Kingdom.

In a statement, health officials announced:

"The Colorado State Laboratory confirmed and notified the Center for Disease Control (CDC) of the case. The individual is a male in his 20s who is currently in isolation in Elbert County and has no travel history. The individual is recovering in isolation and will remain there until cleared by public health officials. The individual has no close contacts identified so far, but public health officials are working to identify other potential cases and contacts through thorough contact tracing interviews."

Public health officials said they are doing a thorough investigation.

"There is a lot we don't know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely. We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels," said Gov. Jared Polis.

Officials said the Colorado state lab was the first in the country to quickly identify the variant through sophisticated analysis of testing samples.

Scientists in the United Kingdom believe the B.1.1.7 variant to be more contagious than previously identified strains of the SARS-CoV-2 variant, though no more severe in symptoms.

The currently approved vaccines are thought to be effective against this variant.

"The fact that Colorado has detected this variant first in the nation is a testament to the sophistication of Colorado's response and the talent of CDPHE's scientist and lab operations," said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "We are currently using all the tools available to protect public health and mitigate the spread of this variant."

Gov. Polis and state officials will provide further details at a press conference tomorrow morning.

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