New Covid-19 variant identified in Humboldt County, what you need to know about the single-point mutation

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HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif. (KIEM) — The N501Y variant is single point mutation of the Covid-19 virus and has been identified in Humboldt County through genetic testing.

The Humboldt County Public Health Department is confident it was contained to a single outbreak at Granada Rehabilitation and Wellness Center.

“We haven’t seen the N501Y mutation in any other samples. We’ll continue to monitor that through ongoing genetic sequencing. I do think that given the time period that has passed since Granada, that if this were something that was going to be much more widespread we very likely would have seen it by now,” according to Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Ian Hoffman.

The N501Y mutation is part of the 3 variants of concern from the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil, but since those variants also have other mutations, it’s uncertain if they behave in the same way. It’s too soon to say whether or not this variant makes infection more severe, but studies do suggest it makes it easier for the virus to spread.

“Based on that and the fact of what we saw at Granada, it could be one of the reasons that we saw such wide transmissibility and fast transmission in that setting,” Hoffman says.

With variants on the rise around the world, and now having been found locally, Dr. Hoffman continues to stress the importance of continuing to take necessary safety precautions like masking, distancing, and avoiding gatherings, as well as testing.

“This just reinforces again the need for more testing in our community so we can find these types of things if they are out there,” Hoffman adds.

The Public Health Lab has been working with Chan Zuckerberg Biohub since June of last year. The nonprofit has tested more than 650 samples from Humboldt County.