New COVID variant may have originated in California, public health says more needs to be learned about it

Michelle Corson, Kern County Public Health Services Department: “There is some optimistic news there, but we are really having to wait for more information."
Posted at 5:15 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 20:18:38-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — It’s been expected for a while that the coronavirus would eventually change, and that’s happened in several locations overseas but one variant appears to have started here in California, as health officials want the public to remain cautious.

Virus variants are a normal occurrence. Viruses mutate as they find ways to spread and thrive. The latest variant appears to be more transmissible and to have started in California. But public health said a lot still needs to be learned.

There’s been a lot of talk about variants of the COVID-19 virus recently. You may have heard about the UK variant, the South African variant, and the Brazilian variant. But a new one is looking like it may have originated in California. The Kern County Public Health Services Department saying virus variants are expected, but still, this is something to pay attention to because there’s a lot we don’t know.

Michelle Corson

“We do know they have been detected in California and in some of our neighboring counties, but at this time there is no indication of the presence in our community,” explained Michelle Corson, public relations officer for Kern Public Health. “As these are early on and the research is limited, we continue to learn more and more about these variants.”

The variant may be more transmissible than the virus's original form. Several vaccine manufacturers also say their current vaccines distributed across the country will still be effective.

“There is some optimistic news there, but we are really having to wait for more information,” added Corson.

Kern County Public Health Services Department

Although no variants have officially been detected in Kern County yet, some officials, like Terri Church, the chief nursing officer at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, speculate that they may already be here, as people travel routinely from places like LA County, where variants are more common.

But Church said that her hospital and many others are actually seeing a significant decline in covid patients right now.

“We’re doing extremely well in our community, throughout California, and throughout the United States.”

Some more good news: although more transmissible, the California variant, and all other known variants, can be avoided by doing the things that public health has been preaching throughout the pandemic.

“All of those things about wearing a mask, staying socially distant, washing your hands, these are the same measures that we want you to continue to take,” said Corson.

Corson added with COVID conditions improving in so many ways right now, it may be easy for people to get complacent. She said it’s vital for people to stay the course, especially as more is learned about variants.