UP reports first known case of UK variant strain of COVID-19 in Oregon

By Austin De Dios and Gabi DiPaulo | January 16, 2021 9:20pm

The UP Office of Public Affairs reported on Saturday, Jan. 16 that one case of the COVID-19 variant was contracted by an on campus staff member.

Media Credit: Molly Lowney / The Beacon

An on campus staff member at the University of Portland has been infected with the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19, according to an email from the Office of Public Affairs. This is the first known case of the new strand reported in Oregon, and one of 88 cases across the United States according to the CDC. The staff member has been in isolation since the initial diagnosis. According to the Oregon Health Authority, the individual had no known travel history. 

The email stated that all UP community members who came into contact with the infected staff member have been notified and in isolation since Monday, without any evident COVID-19 symptoms.

The new strain of COVID-19, which was first discovered in the U.K., was detected in the United States for the first time Dec. 29 in Colorado. Officials have called the new strain significantly more contagious, and have projected that it may make up the bulk of U.S. infections by March

Although more contagious, there is no evidence that this variant’s symptoms are more severe, and existing COVID-19 vaccines should still be effective against it.

This news comes days before roughly 830 students move onto campus, starting on Monday. Incoming students will all be subject to baseline testing with Carbon Health, and the University re-emphasized its confidence in their COVID-19 planning and management strategies being implemented this spring.

“It is important to note that our robust testing protocols caught this infection early and worked as they should have,” Vice President for Marketing and Communication Michael Lewellen wrote in the email. “Our resources came together quickly to identify, isolate and care for this member of our UP community, and to address the possibility of further spread.”

Gabi DiPaulo is the Editor-in-Chief of The Beacon. She can be reached at dipaulo21@up.edu.

Austin De Dios is the News and Managing Editor of The Beacon. He can be reached at dedios22@up.edu.