SJBPH confirms B.1.1.7 COVID-19 Variant in La Plata County


San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) reports that a case with the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been identified in La Plata County. SJBPH continues to conduct contact tracing of those identified with, and exposed to, the new variants. 

The B.1.1.7 variant, also known as the United Kingdom variant, was first detected in Colorado at the end of December 2020 and is currently the most prevalent variant in Colorado. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the B.1.1.7 variant as a variant of concern, as preliminary data suggests the B.1.1.7 variant spreads more easily and can cause increased severity of disease. Currently there is no evidence to suggest decreased vaccine effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant. 

The B.1.1.7 variant is the second variant identified in La Plata County. On March 1st, SJBPH reported two cases involving another variant called B.1.427/B.1.429, one in La Plata County and one in Archuleta County. SJBPH emphasizes the best defense against virus variants is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through public health precautions, include testing and quarantine, physical distancing, getting vaccinated when eligible, and wearing a mask with improved fit and filtration. 

“With more contagious variants circulating in the region, it’s a good idea to ensure you have a properly fitting mask, or double-up on cloth masks,” said SJBPH’s Executive Director, Liane Jollon. “This is especially important in higher-risk situations, such as going to the grocery store or any other place that might be crowded,” added Jollon. 

SJBPH especially encourages residents of Archuleta County and La Plata counties to be tested for COVID-19, in response to the discovery of variants in people living and working in these communities. SJBPH provides free COVID-19 testing at the following locations: 

  • Archuleta County Community Testing Site provides testing from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds, 344 U.S. HWY 84 in the all-weather Hughes Pavilion, Pagosa Springs. 
  • La Plata County Community Testing Site provides testing from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, 2500 Main Ave, Durango. 
  • Pagosa Springs Medical Center provides testing from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, at 95 S. Pagosa Blvd., Pagosa Springs. 
  • Additional testing opportunities for these communities will be announced in the coming days. Testing is critical if you have symptoms, believe you’ve been exposed, work in a high-contact job, or if you have been gathering with people outside your household.  Additional testing allows public health officials to sequence more samples and identify if COVID-19 variants are more widespread. 

For more information on COVID-19 testing, please visit: 

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