This variant, COVID-19 B.1.1.7 is the same one recently found in the United Kingdom. 

On Tuesday, Governor Polis and state public health officials announced that a case of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 has been discovered in Colorado. This is the first case reported so far in the entire United States. That doesn't mean it is actually the first, or only, case in the United States, but the Colorado state lab was the first in the country to identify it during the analysis of testing samples.

According to officials, a man in his 20s tested positive for the variant. He is currently in isolation in Elbert County. The man has no travel history, and contact tracing and investigations are underway to determine the possible source of his case and who else may have been exposed. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been notified.

“There is a lot we don’t know about this new COVID-19 variant, but scientists in the United Kingdom are warning the world that it is significantly more contagious. The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority and we will closely monitor this case, as well as all COVID-19 indicators, very closely. We are working to prevent spread and contain the virus at all levels,” said Governor Jared Polis in a statement.

At this time, the variant is believed to be more contagious than the original strain, but it is also believed that it is still covered by the current vaccines. 

“The fact that Colorado has detected this variant first in the nation is a testament to the sophistication of Colorado's response and the talent of CDPHE's scientist and lab operations,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We are currently using all the tools available to protect public health and mitigate the spread of this variant.”

Further details will be outlined by the governor and state health officials at a press conference on Wednesday morning, December 30. You can read more about this variant case, as well as the science of the new variant, on the statement from the governor.