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Colorado Health Officials Find Possible 2nd Case Of U.K. Coronavirus Variant

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis helps put the state's first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine in a freezer last week at a state health department laboratory.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis helps put the state's first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine in a freezer last week at a state health department laboratory.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Colorado health officials say they may have found a second case of a coronavirus variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom. Officials are currently conducting more genetic testing to determine if the variant is present.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced one confirmed case on Tuesday, marking the first time the variant has been officially documented in the United States.

According to the state's public health department, both the confirmed and possible cases were contracted by members of the Colorado National Guard who had been assisting at a nursing home in Simla, Colo., about 50 miles northeast of Colorado Springs.

Polis said Tuesday that the confirmed case is a man in his 20s who has not been traveling. Details of the second Guard member have not been released. Both individuals are isolating.

All the residents at the 26-person nursing home where the Guard members were working have tested positive for the coronavirus but are not believed to have contracted the variant from the U.K., Colorado Public Radio reported.

The variant, to which scientists in the U.K. alerted the public in mid-December, is believed to spread more quickly and has 17 mutations, NPR's Michaeleen Doucleff reported.

Coronavirus cases have notably increased in the U.K. over the past few weeks. On Tuesday, a record 53,275 cases were reported, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the past month alone, more than 768,000 cases were reported.

Just days ago the first case of the coronavirus variant outside of the U.K. was found in France.

In response to the news from the U.K., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that anyone coming to the U.S. from the U.K. must receive a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours of beginning the trip.

Colorado Public Radio and Community Radio for Northern Colorado contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.