By Audra Streetman

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado health officials have identified two additional cases of the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant in the state. There are now three known variant cases in Colorado plus a possible case that is pending genome sequencing results.

(credit: CBS)

Colorado was the first state in the country to identify the COVID-19 variant, which was previously discovered in the United Kingdom. Scientists believe the COVID-19 variant is more contagious but not more severe in symptoms.

On Dec. 29, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced the state’s first known case of the variant, a National Guard member deployed to the Good Samaritan Society in Elbert County. A second National Guard member at the same facility was recently confirmed to have the variant.

(credit: CBS)

The third confirmed case and possible case were identified Thursday in staff at the state-run Veterans Community Living Center at Fitzsimons in Aurora. CDPHE said the facility is conducting routine testing and has not identified any additional cases.

Health officials said the current COVID-19 vaccines are thought to be effective against the variant.

CDPHE is currently screening batches of tests from state labs to check for possible variant cases. Epidemiologists say people can protect themselves from COVID-19 and the variant strain by washing their hands, wearing a mask in public, social distancing and avoiding gatherings.

Audra Streetman