News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health/Science/Tech

Highly Contagious Coronavirus Strain Reported in Dallas County

Gloved hands prepare a test.
Shutterstock

Genetic sequencing helped county officials determine that a 20-year-old Dallas man was infected with the new variant of the virus.

Dallas County has reported the first confirmed case of a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus.

County officials said a 20-year-old male in the City of Dallas, who tested positive for COVID-19, was infected with the new strain. Genetic sequencing helped determine that the variant, known as B.1.1.7, caused his infection.

This is the third such case reported in Texas. The first one was reported on Jan. 7 in Houston.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the young man is isolated and in stable condition. Epidemiologists from the county’s health department are investigating and contacting people he interacted with.

Jenkins said there’s no recent record of him having traveled outside the United States.

“So we don’t know where exactly where he might have gotten it from,” Jenkins said. “But it’s inevitable when you live in an urban area with a, you know, big hub for transportation like DFW and Love [Field] that you’re gonna get this.”

The new COVID variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in September. Scientists have said it’s 70% more contagious but that they don’t believe it’s more deadly.

“Every virus mutates and when it mutates enough, it’s able to beat the vaccines,” Jenkins said. “And so we’re seeing the first major mutations happening and it’s a race to get as many of us vaccinated, so we can get the herd immunity at 70 to 75 percent before this thing mutates to the extent our vaccines don’t affect it.

On Saturday, Dallas County reported 2,809 positive case of COVID-19. Of those, 2,432 are confirmed cases and 377 are probable cases. In all, there have been 206,329 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dallas County. More than 1,800 residents have died from it.

And more than 7,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in school-aged kids and staff in Dallas County over the past 30 days, according to officials.

Currently, 111 long-term care facilities have outbreaks — the most reported in Dallas County since the pandemic began.

Jenkins urged residents to double down in their efforts to protect themselves and others. He said people should avoid crowds, wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and avoid get-togethers.

He also said residents should register to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at schavez@kera.org. You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.