Routine genomic sequencing first identified the B.1.1.7 variant locally at the end of last month, and eight more cases have been identified to date. Humboldt County health worker Dr Ian Hoffman noted that this variant was likely circulating widely in the community before it was detected.
“Our recent increase in cases shows just how contagious this variant is,” said Dr Hoffman, adding that it is believed to be causing major epidemics locally and across the country, most recently in Oregon and the United States. Michigan. “So far, older adults have experienced the most severe results from COVID, but now we are seeing younger people getting sicker and younger people being hospitalized.”
Dr Hoffman said the county has seen a rapid increase in hospital admissions believed to be due to the variant. Seventeen people were hospitalized with COVID-19 at some point last week, several of whom were transferred out of the county and several who were younger than previously, including a child aged 10 to 19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the B.1.1.7 variant is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States. This variant is associated with a 50% increase in virus transmission and potentially leads to more serious illnesses as well as hospitalizations and deaths in unvaccinated people.
While more studies are needed, data from manufacturers shows vaccines to be highly effective in preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19 variants.
Genomic sequencing has also found a single case of the P.1 variant, sometimes referred to as the Brazilian variant. This case was first diagnosed in mid-April and was acquired while traveling out of the county. Dr Hoffman said it does not appear to have spread beyond this initial case. “This person followed the isolation advice on his return to Humboldt, and contact tracers did not identify any other local contacts,” he said. “It shows why travel is always risky and that public health measures can help contain cases when followed closely.”
More cases of the B.1.1.7 variant are expected when the results of further genomic sequencing are returned in the coming weeks, but Dr Hoffman urged the community to act now. “Vaccination is the most effective tool we have to stop this disease, and now is the time to get vaccinated. Make sure you get both injections in a two-dose series so that you have as much protection as possible, ”he says.
“Given the ease with which this variant spreads, we should always wear masks in public, maintain a distance and do everything possible to avoid large gatherings, especially indoors, until more people are involved. ‘between us to be vaccinated,’ said Dr Hoffman. “Committing to these safety measures as a community gives us our best chance of containing this epidemic and protecting our friends and neighbors from serious disease.”
Make an appointment at a public health vaccination clinic via MyTurn.ca.gov or at a local pharmacy at vaccinefinder.org
For the most recent information on COVID-19, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or by contacting [email protected] or by calling 707-441-5000.
Some Safeway, CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aid, Walgreen and Walmart sites offer appointments for the COVID-19 vaccination. Check if there are any appointments available at any of these locations by clicking on the links below.