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First COVID-19 variants confirmed in Grant County

New cases in GCD area

 

Last updated 4/14/2021 at 7:31am



Grant County Health District confirmed cases of B.1.429 variants of COVID-19 in three Grant County residents Monday, and lists 103 new Covid cases in the last week, including from the Grand Coulee area.

The district’s health officer is advocating masking up with the highest quality mask you can afford, not just to protect others but also to protect yourself against new variants.

The variants, often referred to as “California variants,” were identified in the first and second week of April through genomic sequencing at the Washington State Department of Health Public Health Laboratory, a press release explained.

“Samples were obtained from three Grant County residents who tested positive for COVID-19 in late March and early April,” the release says. “Other details about the individuals are being withheld for confidentiality reasons; all are recovering without requiring hospitalization.” 

The district was unable to tell The Star what cities within the county the individuals are from, according to GCHD Public Information Officer Misty Aguilar.

Aguilar said that “approximately 45-50% of all COVID positive cases in Washington are now expected to be California variants, while at least 35% are expected to be B117 (UK) variant. More than 90% of all cases in WA are expected to now be the Variants of Concern.”

A new Covid case was reported by GCHD on April 12 as coming from the Grand Coulee Dam, however they did not report if the case was a variant. 

The Grand Coulee and Electric City and area has had 35 confirmed Covid cases since the pandemic started, according to their website.

Coulee Dam has had 49, including two reported in the last week, according to Okanogan County Public Health’s website. Neither Elmer City nor Nespelem have had any cases in the last week. The Colville Tribes reports three active cases, all in Omak.

“Most COVID variants are more infectious, and their severity is greater,” Grant County Health states, reiterating the importance of following COVID-safe practices.

“Because our COVID-19 rate is still high, please continue using high quality masks when in public, physically distance by 6 feet, wash your hands often and stay fit by exercising regularly,” Grant County Health Officer Dr. Alexander L. Brzezny said in the release. “The next best thing you can do is to get the COVID-19 shot as soon as possible to bring COVID-19 rates down and bring our freedom back. The vaccines are the most hopeful thing we have had since the beginning of this pandemic, so let’s fight back with it.”

“Washington State has a robust surveillance system for identifying variants,” the release goes on to say. “According to the Washington State Department of Health, Washington is one of the top states for genome sequencing, the process for identifying variants, and our public health laboratory sequences more specimens than nearly any other state in the U.S. In addition to testing for variants among individuals with COVID, the Department of Health is also interested in testing for variants in those rare instances when a person develops COVID after being fully vaccinated (a vaccine breakthrough).

“COVID-19 is not over; this pandemic is not over. We urge everyone to follow preventative measures and take precautions when gathering outside of your home,” said Grant County Health District Administrator Theresa Adkinson.

“Overall, COVID-19 case rates and community spread in Grant County continue to be relatively high,” added Dr. Brzezny. “The concern about COVID variants is a good reason to continue infection prevention steps so that our county can stay in the current phase 3 of reopening. Increasing rates of disease could push us back a phase or worse. Even after a person is vaccinated for COVID-19, individuals should continue wearing a mask in public, using good ventilation at home, school or a workplace, practice regular handwashing and maintain physical distance from others outside of their household. We may have also forgotten that it is still important to get tested and stay home if we feel ill, so please get tested if and isolate if experiencing COVID symptoms.”

 

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