First Case of UK COVID-19 Variant Detected in Cochise County
Health Department Urges Residents to Remain Vigilant, Continue Safety Mitigations and Get Vaccinated
BISBEE, Ariz. (April 15, 2021) – This week, Cochise Health and Social Services received reports stating the U.K. COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7, has been detected within Cochise County. The variant was first detected in Arizona on January 29, 2021 and it is not exactly known how widely the variant may have spread in Arizona.
The disease COVID-19 is caused by the SARS CoV-2 virus. Within the SARS CoV-2 virus family there are several variations of the original virus, one of which includes variant B.1.1.7. This variant is commonly known as the “UK COVID-19 Variant” because it was first detected in the United Kingdom in December of 2020. The B.1.1.7 variant was originally believed to cause a more severe type of COVID-19 illness, however current research states the variant is more infectious, but does not cause a more severe type of illness.
“It is important to know that this variant strain of SARS CoV-2 is much more transmissible than other variants,” says Erik McLaughlin MD, MPH, Medical Director of Cochise Health and Social Services. “Adherence to proper mask usage, physical distancing and handwashing are key tools to prevent disease spread. Further, current vaccines do offer coverage of this variant and it is more important than ever to have vaccine-based community protection with this new variant.”
Cochise County residents are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Additionally, Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) recommends the public continue following safety mitigations and strategies that are proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19, starting with:
- Get vaccinated.
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth, when around anyone who does not live with you.
- Maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet from those who aren’t members of your household.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay at home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) and immediately throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you are at higher risk for severe illness, you should avoid attending congregate settings. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), studies suggest the vaccines currently authorized for use, such as Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen, are all effective against the UK COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7.
County vaccination sites are now accepting walk-in appointments. To learn more about where to receive a COVID-19 vaccine within Cochise County, visit the county Facebook page and https://www.cochisecovid.com/.