South African COVID-19 variant confirmed at Buena Vista prison


BUENA VISTA, Colo. (KDVR) — The Colorado State Public Health Laboratory has confirmed three cases of the B.1.351 variant, originating from South Africa, at a Buena Vista correctional facility.

Officials say two staff members and one inmate tested positive with the variant. The tests were chosen randomly for variant detection. The state lab will now check all positive tests from the facility for the variant.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has quarantined the individuals and is currently investigating an outbreak at the location that began in October.

CDPHE officials will continue testing inmates and staff and host vaccinations for negative cases. Family members and those who have been in close contact with staff at the facility will receive vaccinations as well.

Officials say the vaccinations at the facility are part of a policy CDPHE communicated to local public health agencies on Jan. 29 that stated, “Local public health has additional flexibility to vary from the prioritization for sub-populations with the vaccine supply allocated to them for emerging risk of rapid spread of COVID-19 (e.g.variant transmission), as identified by local public in consultation with CDPHE.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report this particular variant spreads easier and quicker and vaccines could be less effective against it.

While this is the first time the variant has been detected in Colorado, 68 cases have been identified across 17 jurisdictions in the United States, according to the CDC.

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