The COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom has been detected in Contra Costa County for the first time, Contra Costa Health Services said Tuesday.
Laboratory results confirmed there were at least two known cases of the variant (B.1.117) in the county. The variant is more contagious than others and is possibly more deadly, Contra Costa Health Services said.
"This is a reminder that even though COVID numbers are falling, we need to continue using all our tools to prevent another surge: wear masks in public, continue to physically distance, avoid both indoor and large gatherings, and get vaccinated when it’s your turn," County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said in a statement.
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Farnitano said there are "likely many more" cases of the variant in the community.
"We can’t say how widespread it is in Contra Costa, but it’s concerning," he said in a statement.
The three COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered in the United States provide "strong protection" against the variant and others, Contra Costa Health Services said, citing initial studies.
Another variant that was first identified in South Africa has not been detected in Contra Costa County at this point, but Farnitano said people should assume it's circulating in California.