kunc-header-1440x90.png
Our Story Happens Here
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Colorado Might Have Identified 2nd Case Of Highly Infectious Coronavirus Variant

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

To Colorado now, where officials say they have identified what they think may be a second case of a new, apparently more contagious strain of the coronavirus. This follows their announcement yesterday of the first confirmed case of the new variant in the U.S. The strain was first discovered in England. It has led to a lockdown around London. Colorado Public Radio's John Daley has details.

JOHN DALEY, BYLINE: Both the confirmed and suspected cases are members of the Colorado National Guard. They were deployed to assist at a nursing home with an extensive outbreak in the small town of Simla, about 90 miles outside of Denver. State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy says the soldiers arrived at the nursing home December 23 and were tested the next day.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RACHEL HERLIHY: First, the National Guard personnel could have acquired their infections while working at the Simla facility. And second, the personnel could have acquired their infection through other work or personal activities prior to arriving at the facility. Neither of these cases has traveled internationally in the weeks prior to their illness.

DALEY: Four other Colorado National Guard members deployed to the facility have not tested positive. The outbreak there began in mid-December. All 26 nursing home residents tested positive for coronavirus, as have 20 of the home's 34 staff. But Dr. Herlihy says early results show no residents or staff have contracted the variant.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HERLIHY: That investigation is ongoing, and we are exploring all possibilities.

DALEY: Governor Jared Polis told reporters it appears the variant was already circulating in Colorado and is likely to be found in other states too.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JARED POLIS: I fully expect other states and state labs will also detect that in the coming weeks and months. We don't yet have a good idea of how prevalent it is either nationally or within our state.

DALEY: The Guard member with a confirmed case of the variant is in their 20s. Neither that person nor the one with the suspected case is being identified. Dr. Eric France, the state's chief medical officer, says public health officials will keep a close eye on cases to see if the variant is spreading rapidly in Colorado. He says if it becomes the dominant form of the virus in the state and is more transmissible...

ERIC FRANCE: We'll see a steeper uptick - incline of cases as times go by, and we'll need to react more quickly to help control it.

DALEY: Unlike much of the country, Colorado has seen downward trends in several metrics, like hospitalizations, in recent weeks.

For NPR News, I'm John Daley in Denver.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRISTEZA'S "LIQUID PYRAMIDS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.