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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
State public health officials have confirmed two cases of a new COVID-19 variant among Iowans in Jefferson County this week.
The Iowa Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that the State Hygienic Lab had detected the COVID-19 variant, SARS-CoV-2 B. 1.617, in two adults in Jefferson County — one between the ages of 61 and 80 and the other older than 80.
The variant — also referred to as the India variant because it was first detected there — is not designated as a “variant of concern,” according to state public health officials. There currently is not evidence that this variant is more easily transmitted to others or causes more severe disease, state officials said in a news release.
Other variants detected in Iowa, including the P. 1 and the B.1.1.7 strains, are considered to pose a higher risk.
India has dealt with a deadly surge in new novel coronavirus cases over the past couple weeks, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 people as of this week. But some reports indicate the official tally of confirmed cases and deaths could be a major undercount.
The Biden administration issued a travel restriction from India as of Tuesday.
The variant was detected in Iowa through routine analysis of genetic sequence data by the State Hygienic Lab. Local public health officials have notified the individuals who may have been exposed to these confirmed cases, they said in the release.
The new variant underscores the importance for Iowans to continue practicing mitigation measures, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
It’s also critical for Iowans to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, state officials added.
“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to prevent this or any other currently circulating strain of the virus from spreading through the population. Since the vaccine is now open to all Iowans over the age of 16, we have the opportunity to use this tool to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities,” Dr. Caitlin Pedati, IDPH state medical director and epidemiologist, said in a statement.
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