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UK COVID-19 variant detected in Multnomah County

For the first time, an Oregonian has been infected with the mutation of the coronavirus that was first detected in the United Kingdom.

The patient from Multnomah County had “no known travel history,” according to an Oregon Health Authority release issued Friday evening, and public health officials are still in the midst of investigating possible places that the patient could have been infected.

The United Kingdom variant of the virus, officially known as strain B.1.1.7, has previously been detected in the state of California among other U.S. states.

In quotes attributed to health officer and state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger in the Oregon Health Authority release, Sidelinger recommended the public continue practicing “effective public health measures” related to COVID-19 while officials study the new strain and its properties further.

“The detection of the first case of this variant strain is a concern, and we have been monitoring movement of this strain,” Sidelinger stated. “As we learn more about this case and the individual who tested positive for this strain, OHA continues to promote effective public health measures including wearing masks, maintaining six feet of physical distance, staying home, washing your hands and avoiding gatherings and travel.”

The Oregon Health Authority states that information about COVID-19 variants are “rapidly emerging” — both for the strain first discovered in the United Kingdom along with another discovered in the country of South Africa.

Viruses mutate “constantly,” so the new variants are not a surprise, health officials say.

“Most variants do not change how the virus behaves, and many disappear,” the Oregon Health Authority release states.

State health officials reported 21 deaths from COVID-19 Friday, raising the state’s death toll to 1,758.

The agency reported 1,037 new cases of the illness, raising Oregon’s total to 131,258 cases.

Jackson County Public Health reported 53 new cases of the illness Friday, raising the local total to 6,809. The local death toll remained at 82.

There were 418 Oregonians hospitalized with COVID-19, including 101 in intensive care, according to OHA. Thirty-seven people were hospitalized in Jackson and Josephine counties, with 12 in ICU. Of the two-county region’s 57 staffed adult ICU beds, 48 were occupied, while 383 of the region’s 445 staffed adult non-ICU beds were occupied.

As of Friday, Oregon had administered 154,624 COVID-19 vaccine doses. So far, 15,789 people are fully vaccinated, while 138,835 have had their first dose, OHA said.

In Jackson County, 5,557 people have received vaccinations, with 1,046 people considered fully vaccinated and 4,511 who have received one dose.

There have been 326,300 doses of vaccine delivered to Oregon.