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Public Health News

Posted on: March 9, 2021

B.1.351 COVID Variant Originating in South Africa Detected in Teton County, WY

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For Immediate Release

March 8, 2021, Jackson, WY – A COVID-19 test collected on a Teton County resident in January 2021 has been genotyped and identified as the COVID-19 variant B.1.351, which was first identified in South Africa in late 2020. The person contracted COVID-19 in Teton County and did not have any history of travel. This COVID-19 variant allows COVID-19 to spread more easily from person to person. In addition to this case, Teton County has identified 8 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant that originated in the United Kingdom. Genetic sequencing is not available for every COVID positive sample, making it difficult to have an accurate count of variant cases. 

Like many other viruses, mutations to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are expected over time. This COVID-19 variant contains multiple mutations including several within the spike protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and has received more attention due to increased spread of COVID-19 in areas where it has been detected.

Teton District Health Officer Travis Riddell, MD, MPH, stated, “We are encouraging community members to continue to test for COVID-19 especially if they are sick. Testing is still our best mechanism to identify people who test positive for COVID-19 and to quickly work to determine their close contracts so that we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. We are working to vaccinate as many members of our community as possible before more cases of the COVID -19 variants are detected and these variants become more widespread. “

Teton County Health Department wants to remind residents to continue to practice all preventive measures of COVID-19 including wearing a dry, double-layer fabric mask over your nose and mouth, maintaining a distance of 6-feet or more from others outside of your household, washing your hands regularly with soap and water, and staying home when sick. 

To see more of Teton County Health Department’s COVID-19 guidance and recommendations, testing information, and information on the COVID vaccine distribution please visit, http://www.tetoncountywy.gov/2061/COVID-19.  

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