Nevada state health officials say a new strain of COVID-19 could already be in Nevada. This new strain was first identified in the United Kingdom and later found in Colorado last week. Since then, Florida, New York, and California have found the new strain according to their state health departments.
On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson placed the United Kingdom on a strict nationwide lockdown due to the spread of this new variant and growing coronavirus cases.
Dr. Mark Pandori with the Nevada State Public Health Lab says this strain is more contagious but is not more lethal than the regular COVID-19 strain.
It's coping itself which is what we call mutating in virology," says Dr. Pandori. "The more a virus spreads in a community, the more opportunities it has to make mistakes when it copies itself. This leads to what we see here and it's a very natural part of viruses.
The Nevada State Public Health Lab says the best way our state can prepare for changes in this virus and it's variants is to still follow the recommended guidelines of staying home when you can, wearing a mask, and social distancing.
The state lab is using CARES Act funds to purchase equipment that helps them identify mutations within any, and all, viruses.
"We call it genetic sequencing," says Dr. Pandori. "We plan to test positive cases and see if this strain can be found all across Nevada."
The process takes time, according to the state lab, and they expect to find out if that new strain is here by Friday.
For any suggestions, questions, or concerns, feel free to reach out to our reporter, Miles Buergin.