WASHINGTON — DC Health announced Thursday afternoon that two variants of COVID-19, the strains known to be widespread within the U.K. and South Africa, have been detected in four D.C. residents.
During the District's weekly COVID-19 update, Director of DC Health Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said three cases of the U.K. strain and one of the South African strain were identified.
Information on the individuals’ travel history or whether the individuals were hospitalized was not provided during Thursday's COVID-19 update. Nesbitt also stated during the news conference that not every person is tested for the variants of COVID-19.
“Now to put this contextually, you have to remember that every positive test is not sequenced, to be detected for variants," she said. "Only a sampling of cases are detected our sequence for variants."
Nesbitt, along with D.C. officials, continues to encourage District residents to wash their hands, practice social distancing, and wear a mask.
“This is not surprising to D.C. Health but just another reminder to be cautious of our behavior,” Nesbitt said.
Over the last few weeks, the U.K. and South African variants, have been reported in several local jurisdictions, including in Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland and in Northern Virginia.
To find out what this means for residents, WUSA9 spoke to Dr. William Strudwick, Chief Medical Officer at United Medical Center in Southeast.
"We need to double down on what we've been doing," Dr. Strudwick said.
The doctor said handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing should keep your family healthy.
"We should have the best quality mask that we can obtain with a wire on the nose so it doesn't slip down and at least two layers," Strudwick said. "If that means to double up on mask, to use two thin masks, as opposed to one that has multiple layers, that would be appropriate.”
UMC has been widely praised by DC Health officials for its successful vaccination rollout. The hospital gained international attention after Vice President Kamala Harris received her inoculation at UMC.
The Doctor said the Pfizer vaccine will still protect you from the new more contagious variants. "It is highly effective," the Doctor said, "meaning it has 60-70% range."