News & Politics

The UK and South African Coronavirus Strains Have Been Found in DC

corona virus isolated on white background 3d illutration

Four cases of the new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the District, DC Health director LaQuandra Nesbitt announced Thursday.

Three cases of the U.K. strain and one of the South African variant were identified in DC residents, Nesbitt said during a press briefing. It is not yet clear whether the strains arrived in DC by travel or community transmission.

Nesbitt emphasizes that more such cases could be present in the city, but DC’s limited ability to sequence the mutations in every positive sample makes it difficult to determine the spread of the variants. 

“This is not surprising to DC Health,” Nesbitt says, given the “porous” borders with Maryland and Virginia, where several cases of the variants have been found in recent weeks. 

As a result of the new strains, many public health experts are urging people to “double-mask” to further protect against transmission. Nesbitt stops short of recommending that DC residents do so, saying that despite the CDC’s recent study showing the effectiveness of double-masking, “the CDC did not issue guidance or a recommendation that people should double-mask.”