First Cases of UK COVID-19 Variant Confirmed in Williamson County

March 16, 2021 – Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) has learned that the first three cases of the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Williamson County. The variant was discovered and confirmed through lab testing by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in March.

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. Texas continues to see an increase in B.1.1.7 cases around the state.

“It is not surprising to see the variant in our community given how rapidly it spreads,” said WCCHD Lead Epidemiologist Allison Stewart. “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 B.1.1.7 variant was first identified in the United Kingdom in the fall and appears to spread much more easily from person to person than most strains of the coronavirus. The current scientific evidence is that 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.

At this time, Williamson County remains in Red Phase, which includes the following recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19:
• Wear a mask to protect yourself and others and stop the spread of COVID-19.
• Stay at least 6 feet from others who don’t live with you.
• Avoid crowds. The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to
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