SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The recent detection of a COVID-19 variant in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties is causing concern for health officials in both locations.
The B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19, also known as the UK variant, was detected last week in the two Central Coast counties.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is worried about the variant because it is considered to be more contagious and likely to cause greater illness or severe disease.
According to the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, there were 265 known cases caused by variant B.1.1.7 in California as of March 11.
Santa Barbara County officials said two residents recently tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant.
Both individuals completed their isolation period and are no longer infectious.
“The discovery of this concerning variant in our community serves as a reminder that we are still in a pandemic and things may shift quickly in the wrong direction if we let our guard down,” shared Van Do-Reynoso, Public Health Director. “It is critical that everyone continue wearing their masks, practicing social distance, and limiting gathering. If you have tested positive or have been exposed to a positive case, please adhere to isolation and quarantine guidelines.”
San Luis Obispo County Public Health announced early Friday evening one resident tested positive for the variant, and has also completed an isolation period and is no longer infectious.
In a press release, the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department said the CDC considers a variant “of concern” when there is evidence that it spreads more easily, causes more severe disease, and leads to increased hospitalizations and deaths.
On February 25, CDPH issued a Health Alert warning of increased identification of COVID-19 virus variants across the state, nation, and globe. It identified “variants of concern,” including B.1.1.7, B.1.135, and P.1.
“We are so close to ending this pandemic and we can get there with your help,” said Sa Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer. “Continue to wear your mask in public, stay physically distanced from those who don’t live with you, get tested for COVID-19 and get vaccinated against COVID-19 if you are eligible. These actions will continue to protect you from spreading the variants.”