If you needed another reason to keep your guard up these days – well, on Thursday, Jan. 28, Guilford County health officials provided a good one. 

The Guilford County Division of Public Health announced that it had received confirmation of the new, faster-spreading variant of the coronavirus – officially known as “COVID-19 B.1.1.7.”

According to a press release from the county, the strain of the virus was first detected in Guilford County on Wednesday, Jan. 27. 

About a week ago, state of North Carolina health officials announced that the new strain had been confirmed in North Carolina – in the Charlotte area – so county officials suspected it would be a matter of time before it showed up in Guilford County.  The new strain, which is thought to have originated in the United Kingdom, is one of several new variants that have been popping up all over the world including the United States. 

Here’s how they discovered the new strain in Guilford County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct random surveillance on COVID-19 test samples as part of an effort to find potential variant strains of coronavirus. This strain from Guilford County showed up in a positive COVID-19 test sample that had been selected at random for the extra testing.

Currently, there’s no evidence that these variants are worse in their effects than the original COVIOD-19 virus – however, they spread faster.

The infected person in Guilford County found to have the strain of the virus is now in isolation.

Current COVID-19 vaccines are so far thought to be effective against B.1.1.7.

Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann used the occasion to remind everyone what they’re supposed to do.

 “Due to the B.1.1.7 variant being highly transmissible, we are currently conducting contact tracing and will continue to heavily monitor this case,” she stated in a press releasing announcing the unwelcome discovery.  “We are prepared to address future cases that contain variant strains with the same level of detail. It continues to be important for the community to follow the 3 W’s: Wear a face covering, Wash your hands, and Wait six-feet apart.”