U.K. Variant found on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation 

Photo Credit: SU Indian Tribe

Two cases of  B.1.1.7 COVID-19 (also known as the United Kingdom)  variant have been found on tribal lands within the boundaries of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation and is under investigation. The B.1.1.7 variant was first discovered in Colorado at the end of December 2020. On Wednesday, March 10, 2021 San Juan Basin Public Health issued San Juan Basin Public Health Confirms B.1.1.7 COVID-19 Variant Case Identified in La Plata County media release announcing that a second variant had been identified in La Plata County.  

The State Public Health Laboratory identified the variants after sequencing the laboratory sample from an individual who had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The Tribe is working with San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) on the investigation. The Tribal Council and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Incident Management Team (IMT) issued and continue to maintain the public health orders taking the utmost caution to protect the tribal community.  

The origin of the variant is still under investigation. There is little known about the variant at this time, 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 B.1.1.7 variant spreads more easily and may cause increased severity of the virus, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest decreased vaccine effectiveness against the variant.  

CDPHE is taking the lead on the investigation, including contact tracing, interviews and re-interviews, and monitoring in close collaboration and communication with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and SJBPH. Mutations are common, as viruses are constantly changing. Public health officials study these variants to learn more about the virus and to control their spread.  

Symptoms of the virus 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  
  • Diarrhea  

If you are sick, please self-isolate and seek testing. If your symptoms begin to worsen, please call your primary healthcare provider or the Southern Ute Health Center at 970.563.4581. Do not arrive at your doctor’s office without calling to notify them of your symptoms. 

Quarantine is more stringent for people who are exposed to a variant. Individuals who are exposed, should quarantine for 14-days unless instructed to quarantine for a longer duration by a public health official or medical professional.  

Individuals are strongly encouraged to register for a vaccine as well as schedule a test if experiencing symptoms. Both protective measures will help provide increased protection to our tribal community.  


 In response to the detection of the variants within our tribal community, individuals are strongly encouraged to be tested for COVID-19. Enrolled Southern Ute tribal members and IHS-eligible individuals can call the Southern Ute Health Center at 970.563.4581 to schedule an appointment to receive a COVID-19 test. Individuals who are not IHS-eligible can find testing locations by visiting the San Juan Basin Public Health department website at: 

San Juan Basin Public Health provides free testing at the following location: 

  • La Plata County Community Testing Site provides testing from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, 2500 Main Ave., Durango 

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has upcoming testing events on the following days: 

  • April 5 & 6, 2021 – Voluntary Drive-thru Viral Testing Event  
  • A drive-thru event will be held at the Sky Ute Casino Resort, Event Center parking lot. Positive results will be communicated from the Southern Ute Health Center staff and negative results will be communicated from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s COVID-19 Call Center within 5-7 business days.  
  • Ongoing – Southern Ute Health Center can schedule IHS-beneficiaries for COVID-19 testing Monday through Friday by calling 970.563.4581. 


The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has ongoing Southern Ute Health Center vaccination clinics, appointments scheduled between 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Those who are not eligible for a tribal vaccination event can find information on local vaccination providers on the SJBPH Vaccination website at:

More information is available on the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s website and social media, in The Southern Ute Drum, and on the air at KSUT Tribal Radio. Individuals can also call the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s COVID-19 Call Center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 9705630214. 

It is important that all individuals within the Southern Ute Indian Reservation follow the safety guidance in place to help slow or stop the spread of the virus. The tribal ‘Stay at Home’ Order and public health order requiring the use of face coverings remain in effect.  

Please continue to practice good hygiene by washing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects in your home. As a reminder, please stay home and only leave for essential activities. When you must leave your home, continue to practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from others. Stay connected with your loved ones and our tribal elders.  

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