B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 confirmed in Washoe County

B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 confirmed in Washoe County

Confirmed case attended a large gathering

March 12, 2021. Reno/Sparks, NV – The Washoe County Health District (WCHD) is announcing the first case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 in Washoe County. The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory (NSPHL) confirmed the new variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom (UK).

The confirmed case is a female in her 30s whose infection is linked to attendance at a large gathering in Washoe County with more than 60 people from multiple states. So far there have been reports of 17 additional COVID-19 infections linked to this event, though not all of the 17 cases are Washoe County residents. Additional genomic sequencing is underway to determine if more B.1.1.7 cases are confirmed; however, many specimens are not available for genomic sequencing.

Extensive contact tracing has been conducted on all confirmed cases linked to this gathering who are Washoe County residents.

“This is a stark reminder that we are not out of the woods with COVID-19,” said Kevin Dick, District Health Officer for Washoe County. “We suspected that this variant which originated in the UK was present in Washoe County weeks ago but it’s now confirmed. We are recommending that people not attend large gatherings, and follow our guidance and the Governor’s directives because we have seen how quickly the virus can spread. It’s important for people to remain vigilant against COVID-19 and always cooperate with disease investigators so we can conduct adequate contact tracing to ensure that we help limit the spread of the virus.”

This is the second variant of concern reported in Washoe County. The first was the  variant that originated in South Africa, B.1.351.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more information on all COVID-19 variants on its website. According to the CDC, this variant that originated in the UK is “associated with increased transmissibility (i.e., more efficient and rapid transmission, including an increased risk of death compared to other variants).”

Regarding whether the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines are effective against this variant, the CDC says “So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.”

For more information about COVID-19 in Washoe County, please see our website.

The Washoe County Health District is nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board and has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making Washoe County District Board of Health. The District consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. More info can be found here.