LONGVIEW, Washington — The B.1.427 and B.1.429 COVID-19 virus variants first detected in California have been found in nine Cowlitz County cases. The variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may spread more easily than the original virus strain.
Cowlitz County Health and Human Services recently learned of the variants through the state’s electronic disease surveillance system after they were detected by genome sequencing. Seven Cowlitz County residents were found infected with the B.1.427 variant and two were found infected with the B.1.429 variant after testing positive for COVID-19.
Both of the California-based variants were added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) list of variants of concern on March 17. Early evidence shows the B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants may be 20% more transmissible. State and federal agencies are continuing to monitor and research the COVID-19 variants. Studies suggest the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use are effective against the variants.
The B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants are the first of the CDC’s COVID-19 variants of concern detected in Cowlitz County.
“We are beginning to see COVID-19 case counts rise in Cowlitz County,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Health Officer for Cowlitz County. “For this reason, and because more contagious COVID-19 variants are now circulating locally, it is imperative that we continue taking preventative measures to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”
The same steps people have already been taking to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 can work against the B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants, and other COVID-19 variants. Those measures include:
• Wearing a well-made, well-fitting face mask, even with people you see regularly and in your smallest social circles.
• Keeping gatherings outside whenever possible.
• Staying at least 6 feet from people you do not live with.
• Avoiding any social gatherings indoors, but if participating, wearing a mask and ensuring windows and doors are open to maximize ventilation.
• Washing your hands often, not touching your face, and carrying hand sanitizer for use when water and soap are not available.
• Staying home if you are sick or if you have been exposed to COVID-19.
• Getting tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms or were exposed to someone who tested positive.
To learn more about COVID-19 variants, read the Washington State Department of Health’s March 25 report or visit the CDC’s variants webpage.