DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has confirmed 38 additional cases of the COVID-19 variant, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7. in Iowa. The variant is often referred to as the U.K. variant because it was first detected in the United Kingdom.
This increase in the number of detected variants comes in part as a result of increasing the number of tests being sequenced by the State Hygienic Lab (SHL) for the B.1.1.7 variant. This increase further supports that we know this variant is circulating here in the state of Iowa, in addition to being found across the United States.
IDPH and local public health have initiated contact with these cases to understand their exposures and recommend mitigation measures. The process includes notifying anyone with whom these individuals have been in close contact. The individuals will be advised to isolate in accordance with IDPH and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance.
“Because current evidence shows the current vaccines are effective against the B.1.1.7 variant, it’s absolutely critical for Iowans to get the vaccine when one is made available to them. As viruses are known to change a bit over time and variants can sometimes be more easily transmissible, reaching herd immunity will be very important in reducing virus activity. Public health will continue to work with our partners at SHL to monitor these trends and it is very important that we all keep practicing good public health protective measures,” shared Dr. Caitlin Pedati, State Medical Director and Epidemiologist.
For more information on vaccine eligibility and to find a provider, visit: https://vaccinate.iowa.gov/
The emergence of new variants underscores that it remains critical for Iowans to continue the mitigation efforts that we know work to slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Wear a mask or face covering
- Practice social distancing with those outside your household
- Clean your hands frequently with soap and water
- Stay home if you feel sick
- Get tested if you are exposed to, or have symptoms of COVID-19
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to you
Updates to Iowa’s B.1.1.7 cases will be shared on the CDC’s website here. These case counts only represent the variant strains that are confirmed through genomic sequencing, and may not accurately reflect the true number of variant cases.