Update Jan. 21, 2o21: The new COVID-19 strain has not been detected in San Luis Obispo County as previously reported by the state, according to County Public Health Spokesperson Michelle Shoresman. 

A COVID-19 variant called L452R has been found in San Luis Obispo County, according to a California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Jan. 17 press release.

The CDPH said the L452R variant has also been picked up in the counties of San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Monterey, Humboldt, Lake, Mono and Santa Clara – where it has been linked to multiple outbreaks.

Sequencing is not done equally across the state or country, so it is too soon to know how prevalent the L452R variant is statewide, nationally or globally, according to the CDPH. 

CDPH epidemiologist Erica Pan said in the press release that it’s common to find variants of viruses and that the Department of Public Health is working with federal, local and university partners to better understand the variant.

The L452R variant was first identified in 2020 in different states and countries. This strain is also different from the new strain of COVID-19 found in the United Kingdom. 

The CDPH said Charles Chiu, a virologist who teaches at the University of California, San Francisco, has been sequencing cases from multiple counties across the state in an initiative known as COVIDNet.

“This variant carries three mutations, including L452R, in the spike protein, which the virus uses to attach to and enter cells, and is the target of the two vaccines that are currently available in the United States,” Chiu said in the press release.

The CDPH asks the public to continue to take steps to limit the transmission of COVID-19 by staying home except for essential activities, wearing a mask and getting the COVID-19 vaccine when eligible to do so. 

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