A variant of COVID-19 has been found on tribal lands within the Southern Ute Indian Reservation boundaries, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe said Saturday in a news release.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment identified the variant after sequencing a laboratory sample from a person with COVID-19 who recently died. The tribe said it is working with San Juan Basin Public Health and the CDPHE on the investigation.
The tribe received results from the state lab Friday. According to the news release, the origin of the variant is still under investigation.
The variant is called B.1.427/B.1.429, and is colloquially known as the California variant.
At this time, little is known about this variant, but variants become a concern when they lead to an increase in disease transmission or severity, when they cannot be detected by current diagnostic tests or when they reduce the effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, the news release said.
Researchers in California, where the variant appears to be spreading more commonly, have said preliminary data suggest it may spread more easily than other forms of the virus, but not to the level of other variants of concern, such as B.1.1.7 (aka the U.K. variant).
CDPHE is taking the lead on the investigation of the variant on tribal lands, including contact tracing, interviews and reinterviews, and monitoring in close collaboration and communication with the tribe and SJBPH, the news release said.
At this time, there is no reason to believe the presence of this variant on the reservation is related to the tribe’s case count, the release said..
Symptoms of the coronavirus include: fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestions or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
The tribe recommends that members who are sick self-isolate and seek testing. If symptoms begin to worsen, members should call their primary health care provider or the Southern Ute Health Center at 563-4581. People are asked to not arrive at their doctor’s office without first calling to notify them of symptoms.
Quarantine is more stringent for people who are exposed to a variant, the news release said. People who are exposed or produce a positive test, should quarantine for 14 days unless instructed to quarantine for a longer duration by a public health or medical professional.
People who are not Indian Health Service-eligible can find testing locations by visiting the SJBPH website at sjbpublichealth.org/testing.
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has upcoming vaccination and testing events on the these days:
March 3: First dose (Pfizer) vaccination event. March 4, 10 and 11: Second dose booster vaccination event. April 4 and 5: Voluntary drive-thru viral testing event. COVID-19 tests will be optional at the tribal vaccination events.
The Southern Ute Indian Reservation’s “Stay at Home” order and public health order requiring the use of face coverings remain in effect.