By Anica Padilla

5372677(CBS4) — The Colorado State Public Health Laboratory has detected three cases of the B.1.351 variant in Colorado, officials reported Sunday. The B.1.351 variant was first identified in South Africa. The three cases are all at the Colorado Department of Corrections Buena Vista Correctional Complex. Two of the cases are staff members and one is incarcerated.

(credit: CBS)

“[The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment] is actively investigating an outbreak at this facility,” officials stated.

READ MORE: SWAT Standoff Underway In Westminster With Wanted Suspect Raymond Quintana

“To mitigate the current outbreak, a CDPHE testing team will be at the facility [Monday] to perform PCR testing and to host a vaccine clinic for staff and inmates at the facility,” officials stated. “Later this week, CDPHE will also host a vaccination clinic for family members and close contacts of staff.”

READ MORE: Colorado Restaurant Association Stands Up For Small Restaurants Amid Changing Health Guidelines

“This is in line with a policy CDPHE communicated to local public health agencies on January 29 that stated, ‘Local Public health has additional flexibility to vary from the prioritization for sub-populations with the vaccine supply allocated to them for emerging risk of rapid spread of COVID-19 (e.g.variant transmission), as identified by local public in consultation with CDPHE,'” officials stated.

MORE NEWS: COVID In Colorado: Health Experts Hopeful Despite New Wave Of Hospitalizations

This is the first detection of B.1.351 in Colorado, but 68 cases have been identified in the U.S. to date. Originally detected in October 2020 in South Africa, B.1.351 is a variant of concern because it spreads more easily and quickly than other variants, and vaccines may be less effective against this variant.

Anica Padilla