Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced Tuesday that state health officials have detected the first known US case of a more transmissible COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom.
Polis said state officials have informed the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the case, describing the patient as a male in his 20s who is currently in isolation in a county southeast of Denver.
The patient had no previous travel history, meaning he was likely infected from a source within the community. Public health officials are carrying out an investigation while the man recovers, health officials said.
No close contacts have yet been identified, they said, noting investigators are working to find other possible cases as they carry out contact tracing.
“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 Polis.
Scientists in the UK are still studying the coronavirus variant, but while they believe it spreads 70% faster than the original virus they do not think it produces more severe health outcomes.
Polis and state health officials are expected to provide a briefing on the discovery Wednesday morning.
The US has been failing at bringing its outbreak under control without the more infectious coronavirus strain known to be spreading. The country is facing near-record levels of daily infections and deaths as more people choose to congregate with family members indoors during the holiday season.
While down from all-time highs recorded earlier in November, the last week has seen an excess of 150,000 cases recorded every day. The number spiked Dec. 23 when over 228,000 cases were recorded, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Daily deaths also jumped Dec. 22 when 3,400 people lost their lives to the disease.
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