BOULDER | A more contagious variant of COVID-19 has been found in Colorado, according to the state health department.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Tuesday the Centers for Disease Control and Response notified the department about two cases of COVID-19 P.1, which was first detected in Brazil. That variant has led to surges of the virus in South American countries and had quickly jumped borders, infecting people in countries all over the world.
To date 289 cases of the P.1 coronavirus strain have been detected in the U.S.
Colorado’s two cases were discovered in residents in Boulder County. A CDPHE news release said the department isn’t aware of the residents’ travel history, but public health officials are investigating possible exposures to determine whether the variant has spread to others.
Public health officials believe the Brazilian variant could soon become the dominant variant of the virus. Because of mutations, it is more transmissible and potentially more dangerous, especially in countries where health care access is lacking.
Three other variants have been detected in Colorado. The state lists variant cases by county on its online portal.
Public health officials say Coloradans should continue to social distance, wear masks when around others and get the vaccine when able to.
“These are our best tools for preventing the spread of this virus, no matter the strain. Early research suggests that the currently authorized vaccines are effective against known variants, though perhaps to varying degrees depending on the strain,” the department said in a statement Tuesday. “Experts stress that getting vaccinated can provide significant protection against transmission and severe illness from COVID-19.”