The residents have no history of travel and were infected with COVID-19 in early February. COVID-19 variants have likely been in Central Texas for weeks after a Travis County resident with no history of travel was discovered to have a variant in the beginning of February, and Texas continues to see an increase in cases tied to the variant around the state, the release said.
“It is not surprising to see the variant in our community given how rapidly it spreads,” WCCHD lead epidemiologist Allison Stewart said in the release. “Even though we see a light at the end of this long tunnel with the safe and effective vaccines that have been authorized, we must continue to remain vigilant with our infection prevention practices that we know work: wearing masks any time you’re around people you don’t live with, social distancing, and personal and environmental hygiene.”
The variant was first identified in the U. K. in the fall and appears to spread much more easily from person to person than most strains of the coronavirus, the release said. The current scientific evidence suggests the variant may be associated with an increased risk of death but that current vaccines are expected to be effective against it. It is thought to be responsible for only a small proportion of the current COVID-19 cases in Texas and the United States, it said.
At this time, Williamson County remains in Red Phase, which includes the following recommendations to slow the spread of the coronavirus:
- Wear a mask to protect yourself and others and stop the spread of COVID-19;
- Stay at least 6 feet from others who do not live with you; and
- Avoid crowds. The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to COVID-19.