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Through sequencing of test samples, a variant of interest has been identified in five Mesa County COVID-19 cases. The individuals, all females from different households, range in age from 30 to 65 years old.

The Mesa County cases are the first time this variant of interest, referred to as B.1.617.2, has been identified in Colorado. This variant of interest was first identified in India in December 2020. Because viruses are constantly changing, it is normal to see variants appear over time.

Vaccination can slow the spread of illness and is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and our community from the spread of COVID-19. Scientists believe the currently approved vaccines are effective in providing immunity against emerging variants. Mesa County operates a Community Vaccination Site with immediate scheduling available for all residents 16 years of age and older.

In populations not eligible to get the vaccine, such as those under the age of 16, having community protection in the form of high vaccination rates is vitally important. “It’s called cocooning, we use this to protect those who are too young to get vaccinated and others who for various reasons may not be able to get vaccinated.” Jeff Kuhr, Executive Director of Mesa County Public Health said. Vaccination is an effective and proven tool to aid in the reduction of illness and disease. Currently, 36% of eligible residents in Mesa County are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, meaning they have received both doses in a two dose series or a single dose vaccine. “We urge those who are able, to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Kuhr added.

MCPH understands the choice to be vaccinated can come with questions and a desire to learn about the approved vaccines. We urge all residents to get information from trusted sources, such as the MCPH website. MCPH recommends vaccination for COVID-19 as well as other proven prevention methods to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community including frequent hand washing, the use of face coverings in public indoor settings where social distancing is not possible, and staying home and away from school, work, or child care, if you or a loved one is not feeling well.

“We know it’s been a long 14 months, you may be done with COVID-19 and the associated measures, but COVID-19 is not done with Mesa County. We are asking our community to stay committed for Mesa County’s overall and economic health,” Kuhr added.