As Stanislaus County moves into the less restrictive red tier today, the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency has also reported that a version of COVID-19 known as the UK variant has been detected locally. The variant strain is considered more transmissible and deadlier than the COVID-19 that has plagued the world.
The B.1.1.7 variant, more commonly known as the UK variant because it was first identified in the UK, has now been detected in 70 countries.
This variant is more infectious and possibly causes more severe illness and death. This is also the variant that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has predicted would become the predominant strain in the U.S. by the end of March.
“The detection of the B.1.1.7 variant in Stanislaus County is a sobering reminder that this pandemic is not over,” said Stanislaus County Public Health Officer Dr. Julie Vaishampayan. “The best way to prevent this variant from spreading, and prevent more variants from developing, is to stop the virus from circulating in the community. It is vital that everyone, even people that have been vaccinated, continue to follow recommendations that prevent the spread of disease, which include testing, masking, distancing, and getting the vaccine when it is your turn.”
Studies suggest that all three vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — are effective and provide strong protection against the B.1.1.7 variant.
As of Friday, 51,938 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in Stanislaus County and there have been 979 deaths.
The following activities as authorized under the state’s red tier can resume today in accordance with capacity limits and modifications:
• Restaurants, movie theaters, zoos, museums, higher education indoor lectures can resume at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is less.
• Retail stores and shopping centers can operate at 50 percent capacity.
• Grocery stores can operate at full capacity.
• Gym and fitness center indoor capacity is limited to 10 percent.
SCHSA has opened up vaccine eligibility to more individuals. Those who are able to get the vaccine in Stanislaus County include: Healthcare workers; long-term care workers; people aged 65 and over; people with medical conditions and disabilities; and workers in education, childcare, food, agriculture, emergency services, public transit, and janitorial and custodial services.
People can visit schsa.org/coronavirus/vaccine/ to view the options to get vaccinated, or call 558‐7535 for more information.