PORTLAND, Ore. — Officials at the Oregon Health Authority learned on Friday of a positive case for the coronavirus variant originally detected in the United Kingdom — the first known case in Oregon.
The individual was identified as a resident of Multnomah County with no known travel history.
“The detection of the first case of this variant strain is a concern, and we have been monitoring movement of this strain,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, health officer and state epidemiologist at OHA. “As we learn more about this case and the individual who tested positive for this strain, OHA continues to promote effective public health measures, including wearing masks, maintaining six feet of physical distance, staying home, washing your hands, and avoiding gatherings and travel.”
Scientists have, at present, found two major variant COVID-19 strains — the U.K. variant, and another first detected in South Africa. Research on both of them is ongoing, with new information coming out by the day. Researchers are still working to discern more about how these variants spread, but the CDC says that there is no indication that the strains cause more severe illnesses or will cause the current vaccines to be ineffective.
"Viruses constantly mutate, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time," OHA said in a statement. "Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic. Most variants do not change how the virus behaves, and many disappear."
OHA said that staff with Multnomah County Public Health were working Friday night and would be through the weekend to find out more about the individual and their isolation plan, close contacts, and any possible sources of exposure.
“Confirming this strain locally is distressing,” said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines. “Until we have enough vaccine, we must continue using face masks, distancing, and limiting our social interactions.”