A variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been confirmed in Kitsap County for the first time.
According to the state Department of Health, a recent Kitsap County case was found to have the B.1.1.7 mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The B.1.1.7 strain first emerged in the United Kingdom and has spread widely in the United States. Cases have been already reported in several other Washington counties.
The B.1.1.7 variant poses an increased risk to public health because it spreads more easily, a Kitsap Public Health District news release states. Studies indicate the variant is more likely to cause severe illness and death. All the COVID vaccines provide good protection against the Other prevention strategies, including masking, social distancing and handwashing, are effective at preventing the spread of coronavirus variants.
“The emergence of COVID-19 variants increases the potential for more people in our community to become sick, be hospitalized and potentially die from this pandemic,” district Health Officer Dr. Gib Morrow said. “Fortunately, we have the tools we need to stop these mutated viruses from spreading. I’m asking all Kitsap residents to keep fighting the spread of COVID-19 and be ready to get vaccinated as soon as they are able.”
For details visit the DOH and CDC websites.
Cases on the rise
After declines in January and February, COVID activity is increasing in Kitsap County, according to health district data. The rate of new cases reported per 100,000 population over 14 days — a key indicator in the state’s recovery plans — rose from less than 70 at the start of March to about 90 last week.
Hospitalizations for COVID remain elevated. 48 COVID-19 associated deaths have occurred since the start of 2021. The largest proportion of recent cases have been reported in South Kitsap, but new cases are occurring in all areas of the county.
Contact tracers report that gatherings, workplace exposures and household spread continue to contribute to increased caseloads. Clusters of COVID cases have recently been reported in connection with family celebrations and community events, including weddings and church functions.
Morrow noted that COVID activity peaked after the winter holiday season. Kitsap County could be on the verge of a similar wave this spring.
“With spring holidays and vacations just around the corner, we need to take extra caution to prevent another explosion of cases,” Morrow said.
Per the health district, if you choose to gather with people from outside your household:
- Keep your gathering small
- Visit outdoors with plenty of space
- Wear masks
- Avoid sharing eating utensils and dishes
Find more tips for safer gatherings at coronavirus.wa.gov.