First reported cases of U.K. COVID-19 variant found in Washington

First reported case of UK Variant found in Washington
Alissa Eckert/Dan Higgins/CDC

SNOHOMISH CO., Wash. — The first cases of the COVID-19 variant first seen in the United Kingdom have been detected in Washington, the State Department of Health said Saturday.

The strains found are connected to two Snohomish County residents, and were detected at the University of Washington Virology Lab, according to a release.

The lab was screening 1,035 samples between Dec. 25 and Jan. 20 for mutations of the variant (known as B.1.1.7), which was first reported in the United Kingdom.

The first case known to be found in the United States was reported in a Colorado man in his 20s back in December.

“We thought this variant of concern was here and now we know it’s here. It was a huge team effort by the UW Medicine Virology Lab and required development of several new rapid tests to detect and confirm it,” said Dr. Alex Greninger, assistant professor of the Clinical Virology Lab at UW Medicine.

According to the release, the Snohomish Health District has isolated the people who tested positive and is in the process of investigating and contact tracing.

“Containment protocols are no different for B.1.1.7 variants than they are for all other cases of COVID-19. Follow-up investigation is underway to learn more about these cases and the individuals who tested positive for this strain,” said Dr. Chris Spitters with the Snohomish Health District.