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Coronavirus variant identified in south-central Idaho
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Coronavirus variant identified in south-central Idaho

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Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a cell heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (orange/red), isolated from a patient sample. The image was captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility.

HAILEY — The South Central Public Health District has received laboratory confirmation of 12 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 California variant (B.1.429) and four confirmed cases of the COVID-19 UK variant (B.1.1.7), in Blaine County.

At this point, COVID-19 variants have not been discovered in any other counties in this region, SCPHD said Friday.

Variants have been identified in other areas of the state.

Let’s say you are a new member of the SARS-CoV-2 family, with a few genetic tweaks that distinguish you from the rest of the clan. Maybe you have changes in your spike protein that allow you to more easily to invade cells, or a random mutation that helps you elude the virus-killing effects of a COVID-19 treatment.

With the emergence of these variants in south-central Idaho, the health district said it is imperative, now more than ever, to follow public health recommendations to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. These recommendations include the following:

  • Wearing a mask when in public
  • Washing your hands often and avoiding touching your face
  • Staying home when sick except to seek medical attention
  • Maintaining space between yourself and others not of the same household
  • Avoid large gatherings
  • Getting vaccinated

Just as eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine widens to include everyone 16 and older, we are getting promising news about the vaccine's effectiveness on kids much young than that. 

  • No single effort is 100 percent effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19, the health district said, so public health officials urge residents to practice all of them whenever possible to help protect their community.

“Our COVID-19 case numbers are at some of the lowest rates we’ve since this pandemic started. Even with a variant in our community, we can keep those numbers low if we work together to slow the spread of disease,” said Tanis Maxwell, SCPHD epidemiologist.

“As the vaccine is being made widely available, we encourage those who wish to receive one to sign up now and help reduce the spread.”

Schedule an appointment through the SCPHD website: phd5.idaho.gov/Covid-vaccine. Public health encourages everyone 16 and older to register now so they can get signed up for an appointment with a local provider as soon as they qualify.

SCPHD is running two COVID-19 informational hotlines, one in English at 208-737-1138, and one in Spanish at 208-737-5965. These hotlines are run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

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