Is the new mutation of COVID-19 in Utah?

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The COVID-19 mutation that’s spread throughout the United Kingdom has now been detected in the United States. Local experts said it’s possible the new variant could be here in Utah.

This new form of COVID-19 – B117 – was first found in a Colorado National Guard member Tuesday. State officials said Wednesday, there’s possibly a second.

Wednesday afternoon, California Governor Gavin Newsom reported their first confirmed case of the new mutation.

There are no reports of this mutation in Utah, and local experts said it’s possible it’s here, it just hasn’t been identified.

“I suspect we’re going to start seeing more and more reports of this UK variant in the US,” said Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious disease physician at Intermountain Healthcare.

“If it is here already, we still got the chance to contain it, if it’s not here already, I do expect it because like you said, Colorado is right next door,” said Stephen Goldstein, a University of Utah post-doctoral research associate in genetics.

It’s suspected B117 is more contagious than the virus that’s been here in the United States, which Goldstein said could lead to faster-growing outbreaks.

But he said people should not panic.

“From the standpoint of day-to-day life for most people, you’re not in significantly greater danger, if you’re following the public health guidance set in place,” he said.

Stenehjem also encourages Utahns to be mindful and follow the existing public health measures.

“Our public health messages of social distancing, masking, hand hygiene, limiting your contacts, that works,” he said.

These measures – they said – will help slow the spread, and hopefully give the country more time to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19.

Research is still being done, but it’s believed the COVID-19 vaccine will remain effective against this new mutation.

National reports suggest B117 has been found in more than a dozen countries.

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