Andrea Davila, a nurse at the Kaiser Permanente North Lancaster clinic administers a test for COVID-19 at the clinic's drive-thru testing site on Wednesday, April 29. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
ROSEBURG - The first case of the Brazilian variant of COVID-19 has hit the West Coast.
And it's right here in Douglas County.
Douglas County Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer confirmed Tuesday that a Douglas County resident has tested positive for the variant.
"Local Public Health shares in the worry with the CDC, OHA and the entire scientific community, that the COVID-19 variants could be more infectious, perhaps more deadly, and maybe less well controlled by our current vaccine," the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team said in a press release Tuesday.
Public health officials are also awaiting results of other samples that were sent to the CDC for gene sequence DNA testing for COVID-19 variants.
The Brazilian variant, also known as P.1 became known after it fueled a record-breaking case spike in the city of Manaus in the Amazon. Scientists say it has reinfected people previously immune from having contracted the original virus.
Ten cases have previously been found in America. They were in Alaska, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
The Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team said the case found here was confirmed last night from a swab sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for genome sequence testing.
It appears to be related to business travel outside the United States to and from Brazil.
Public health officials fear that an increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources and could lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.
What this means for Douglas County residents is that "rigorous and increased compliance with proven public health recommendations" is essential to limit the virus's spread, the response team said.
Those recommendations include getting the COVID-19 vaccine, physically distancing from others not in your household, wearing masks and face coverings, hand washing properly and frequently, staying home when you are sick, and going into isolation or quarantine if you become infected or are in contact with an infected person.
The COVID-19 Response Team reported one new death Tuesday, of a 91-year-old woman who was diagnosed Feb. 19 and died Sunday.
Twenty five new cases were reported Tuesday.
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NOTE: This story is published with the permission of The News-Review as part of a collaborative of news organizations in Oregon sharing news content. Salem Reporter is part of the arrangement.