Dallas County confirms its first case of more contagious coronavirus variant
Dallas County reported its first known case of the new, contagious variant of coronavirus on Saturday. It is the third known case in Texas.
The new strain, known as B.1.1.7, was confirmed in a man in his twenties who hadn’t recently traveled, according to the county.
The man was in stable condition and should remain in isolation until he was released by public health officials, District Judge Clay Jenkins said.
The appearance of B.1.1.7 here is inevitable, Jenkins said, adding that the load “will grow rapidly”.
“Unless we do everything we can to renew our efforts to control the spread, the new variant will overload our hospitals and increase the time before we can beat COVID and get back to our pre-COVID activities,” he said.
Dallas County health officials were working to locate and notify the man’s close contacts so they could be quarantined and prevented further spread.
In a study published on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted that the new variant will be the dominant source of infection in the US by March.
Dr. Philip Huang, director of health and human services for Dallas County, urged residents to continue taking preventive and protective measures against the virus.
“We can assume that because of the nature of this variant and the speed with which it is spreading, there are more cases in our community,” Huang said in a written statement. “We must remain vigilant in the fight against this virus.”
The news of the new variant in Dallas County is coming as hospitals across northern Texas are already affected by the current variant of the virus.
In the 24-hour period that ended Thursday, 1,140 COVID-19 patients were in acute care at hospitals in Dallas County. During the same period, 518 ER visits were made for symptoms of the disease. According to the Regional Advisory Council on North-Central Texas Trauma, there were 23 adult ICU beds available in Dallas County on Friday.
In Tarrant County, 1,488 people are being hospitalized with the virus, according to Friday’s numbers on the county’s dashboard.
In the United States, the first confirmed case of the variant was reported in Colorado on December 29th. Since then, the strain has also been reported in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Earlier this month, a man in Harris County became the first known case of B.1.1.7 in the state. Since the man had not traveled recently, it is believed that the variant, according to Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner for the Texas Department of Health, is already freely circulating in the state.
“Genetic variations are the norm among viruses, and it’s not surprising they showed up here considering how quickly they spread,” Hellerstedt said in a written statement. “This should get all of us to redouble our commitment to the infection prevention methods we know: masks for when you’re around people you don’t live with, social distancing, and personal and environmental hygiene.”
The variant is believed to originate from the United Kingdom and has been classified as more contagious than previous strains, although it doesn’t necessarily cause more serious COVID-19 symptoms, according to Dallas County health officials.
Currently approved COVID-19 vaccines are considered effective against variant B.1.1.7.