Covid-19: Virus variants discovered in Mendocino County, officials report
Health officials were notified this week that at least four different Covid-19 variants have been circulating in Mendocino County since February.
According to a Thursday press release from county officials, “Covid-19 testing samples from February of this year were sent to a state lab for processing as normal, and were randomly sampled for variant testing. Mendocino County Public Health was alerted on March 24 that a number of our samples tested positive for four different variants of the Covid-19 virus.”
The variants discovered include:
- B.1.4.7 (West Coast Variant)
- B.1.4.9 (West Coast Variant)
- The 3rd and 4th variants discovered are of the B.1.2 category, which are U.S. variants.
According to the press release, “the West Coast variants have been shown to have a 20-percent higher transmission rate and are also somewhat more resistant to antibody therapies.”
“This discovery should be of significant concern for Mendocino County residents,” Public Health Officer Dr. Andy Coren is quoted as saying in the press release. “While we are getting vaccines out rather quickly, scientists are still working to determine if these variants could bring on a new wave of the pandemic, with more vaccine resistance. This means, whether vaccinated or not, we as a community need to abide by Covid-19 precautions to avoid another surge.”
County health officials are recommending that all residents maintain social distance, avoid gatherings and wear masks in public.
On Tuesday, Coren told the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors that there was no evidence that any of the known Covid-19 variants have arrived in the county, but also that only two samples have been tested so far.
“Our new county lab (in Solano County) has begun whole genome sequencing to detect emerging coronavirus variants,” Coren told the county Board of Supervisors March 23, adding that “we have already had the opportunity to send them two samples for this; thankfully no variants were uncovered.”
As far as having county samples being automatically tested for variants, Coren explained that “the lab is still in the process of doing quality control on this before we can really make an arrangement with them to set up an automatic sampling of our county positives to see if there’s any new variants happening here.”
In addition to the county testing samples, Coren said that state officials were “(checking) two percent of the state’s positive tests” for variants, which he described as “increasingly a problem, with the two California variants changing from ‘variants of interest’ to ‘variants of concern’ due to their increased transmissibility.”