NC identifies first case of COVID-19 variant in Mecklenburg County resident

NORTH CAROLINA — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the first identification of the COVID-19 variant in the state.

Health officials said the variant, called B.1.1.7, was found in a sample from an adult in Mecklenburg County.

In a statement, the Mecklenburg County Health Department said the presence of this strain means that “we need to be even more vigilant in our prevention measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

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MECKLENBURG COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT STATEMENT:

“There is one confirmed case of the B.1.1.7 strain of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County. This is the first confirmed case of the B.1.1.7 in the State.

The confirmed presence of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 strain in our community means that we need to be even more vigilant in our prevention measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Continue to practice the 3 Ws, follow the Public Health Directive that was announced January 12 by only leaving your home for essential needs and work and avoiding gathering with people outside of your household and get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available to you.”

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The COVID-19 variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in December. As of Friday, 195 cases had been reported in 21 states.

Health officials said early data suggests the variant may be more contagious than other variants, but current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be effective against it.

“While expected, identification of this COVID-19 variant in North Carolina is concerning, especially at the same time as we are already seeing very high numbers of cases,” NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said. “It is more important than ever to practice the 3Ws.”

North Carolina health officials recommended residents stay home except for essential activities and avoid gathering with people who do not live with you.

North Carolina’s modified stay-at-home order is in effect until at least Friday, Jan. 29. This requires residents to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

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The stay-at-home restrictions close non-essential businesses like gyms, restaurants and retail at 10 p.m. nightly, and allow them to reopen at 5 a.m. The restrictions also include moving the alcohol curfew to 9 p.m. -- two hours earlier than a previous curfew of 11 p.m.