Colorado officials said Wednesday that the individual confirmed to have the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 and another individual that possibly has the variant are both personnel with the Colorado National Guard.
The Colorado State Laboratory confirmed the COVID variant in a male individual in his 20s on Tuesday, the first confirmed case in the U.S. The individual is in isolation and has no travel history, officials said.
State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said during a news conference Wednesday that in addition to the one confirmed case, the state is also monitoring another possible case.
Both cases are Colorado National Guard personnel who were deployed Dec. 23 to aid a nursing home in Elbert County, Colorado.
“It’s being thoroughly investigated,” Gov. Jared Polis said.
The governor said he’s requested a temporary pause in nursing home visitations due to the COVID variant detection, and to allow the elderly to be vaccinated.
Herlihy said the individuals could have contracted the COVID variant during their deployment working at the nursing home or through activities prior to their deployment.
Herlihy added that preliminary tests collected from staff and residents at the nursing home show no evidence of the COVID variant, “but testing is ongoing.”
A contract tracing investigation of the cases is also ongoing, Herlihy said.
The COVID variant is “predicted to potentially be more rapidly transmissible than other circulating strains,” according to the CDC, but there’s no evidence it leads to more severe illness. Last week, the U.S. instituted travel restrictions requiring any passengers flying from the U.K., where the first variant case was detected, to receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of entering the country, following reports of the variant’s spread overseas.