HOUSTON (CW39) Harris County Public Health (HCPH) has confirmed the first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the UK. This the first known case in Harris County and the State of Texas.
The individual is a male between the ages of 30-40 years old in SW Harris County and has no travel history. The individual is stable, in isolation, and will remain there until cleared by public health officials. HCPH epidemiologists are identifying, notifying, and quarantining all close contacts and are conducting a thorough investigation in conjunction with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
Based on available studies in the United Kingdom, scientists believe the B.1.1.7 variant to be more easily transmitted than previously identified strains of the SARS-CoV-2 variant but not more severe in symptoms. In addition, the currently approved vaccines are thought to be effective against this variant.
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“The health and safety of everyone in our community remains our top priority. Though mutations of a virus are expected, we are closely monitoring this case and any potential contacts to prevent the ongoing spread of the virus at all levels,” said Dr. Sherri Onyiego, health authority for Harris County, “The prevention measures for this strain are no different and our community should continue staying home in addition to wearing facemasks, social distancing, getting tested, and washing your hands frequently. We know that our community is growing COVID fatigue, but as cases and hospitalizations are steadily increasing, now is not the time to drop our guard down.”
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a threat to our community. As of today, the positivity rate has gone up to 15% with nearly 250,000 confirmed cases in Harris County. HCPH urges the public to stay home and get tested. In addition residents should continue wearing facemasks, practicing social distancing (6ft/2m or greater), washing hands often, and avoid all gatherings with individuals who don’t live in your household s, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. HCPH offers free COVID-19 testing at various locations throughout Harris County, register at https://covidcheck.hctx.net/ or call 832 927 7575.