The contagious B117 strain of COVID-19 has been identified in a test sample originating in King County, announced the Seattle – King County Public Health Officials on Friday.
The variant had already been found in Snohomish and Pierce Counties, as well as in more than two dozen states nationwide.
The variant was first identified in the United Kingdom, and has been observed to spread more easily than the dominant coronavirus strain that emerged in humans in late 2019, and spread throughout the world in 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expect the strain from the U.K. to be the dominant strain in the U.S. by March.
“We should expect the variant strains to become widespread here, and that will make the outbreak harder for us to control. But we have the advantage of early warning to help us prepare,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, in a prepared statement.
He said because this variant is more contagious, it’s important to keep wearing masks, wash hands and take social distancing seriously, as well as get the coronavirus vaccine when it is available.