Colorado officials have documented the first U.S. case of a person infected with the highly contagious coronavirus variant that’s prompted new lockdowns in the United Kingdom.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis tweeted on Tuesday that the Colorado State Laboratory confirmed the case in a man in his 20s, who has no known travel history. State officials notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the individual was placed in isolation.
The news comes as hospitals across the country have been overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases with further spikes expected, likely due to holiday travel.
Evidence suggests the new strain spreads more easily, but that it doesn’t make people sicker and isn’t deadlier. Federal officials say the coronavirus vaccines are expected to protect against the strain.
The variant was likely circulating in the United States for some time. The U.S. sequences far fewer virus samples than other countries, meaning mutations may go unnoticed for longer.
“We need to increase our sequencing,” Adm. Brett Giroir, the nation’s coronavirus testing czar, said Tuesday on MSNBC. “The CDC is doing that both within themselves and a variety of other partners.”
The CDC announced last week that it will require airline passengers traveling from the U.K. to the U.S. to test negative for the coronavirus before flying — and Giroir said “that probably should be extended to other countries.”