DALLAS, Texas (KLTV) - On Saturday, the Dallas County Health and Human Services reported the first case of the more-contagious COVID variant known as B.1.1.7 in the county. It is the third case that has been reported in Texas so far.
The variant is the same one that has been reported in the United Kingdom.
“The emergence of strain B.1.1.7, while inevitable given the mobility of the modern world and the fact that we are a major transportation hub, means that there is a strain that is 70 percent more contagious in our community, and it will grow quickly,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a press release. “It’s more important than ever to wear your mask around anyone you don’t live with, to maintain six-foot distance from other masked individuals wash your hands frequently, think of ways to avoid crowds by using tools like online shopping, curbside or delivery and outdoor exercise, and forgo get-togethers.”
According to the press release, the person who has the COVID variant is a male Dallas resident in his 20s with no recent history of travel outside of the United States.
“Results of genetic sequencing showed the infection was caused by the variant,” the press release stated. “The individual is stable and is in isolation. DCHHS epidemiologists are involved with the investigation in identifying and notifying close contacts.”
Jenkins said that January and February are expected to be Dallas County’s highest months regarding COVID infections.
“If we don’t do all we can now to renew our efforts to control spread, the new variant will cause an overrun of our hospitals and lengthen the time before we can beat COVID and return to our pre-COVID activities,” Jenkins said in the press release.
The Dallas County judge said health professionals are vaccinating tens of thousands of people a week at the Parkland, UTSW, and DCHHS mega-sites. However, he added that it will be at least another couple of months before those vaccinations start to shrink the number of infections.
The B.1.1.7 variant was first discovered in the UK last September. It appears to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, and it may lead to an increase in COVID cases, the press release stated.
On the plus side, the variant does not appear to cause more serious symptoms, the press release stated. Scientific evidence shows that the currently approved vaccines are expected to be effective against the B.1.1.7 variant.
“This is now the third identified case in Texas, and we can assume there are more cases in our community due to the nature of this variant, and how quickly it spreads,” DCHHS Director Dr. Philip Huang said in the press release. “We must remain vigilant in our fight against this virus and continue all preventative and protective measures such as wearing our masks, washing our hands, and physical distancing.”