Covid-19, novel coronavirus 2019
Novel Coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) (CDC Image)

MONTEREY COUNTY — A new Covid-19 variant has been detected in several California counties, including Monterey County, according to the California Department of Public Health.

CDPH announced Jan. 17 that a 452R variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was identified using genetic sequencing and is now “increasingly being found in multiple counties throughout California.”

In addition to Monterey County, the 452R variant has been detected in Humboldt, Lake, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Francisco, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Santa Clara counties.

“Because genomic sequencing is not done equally across the state or country, it is too soon to know how prevalent the 452 variant is statewide, nationally or globally,” stated CDPH in a news release.

The 452R variant was first identified last year in other countries and states, including California. Due to an increase in the number of specimens being tested to monitor for variant strains at state labs, the 452R variant has been identified more frequently since November.

According to CDPH, this variant is different than the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

“It is common to identify variants of viruses like SARS-CoV-2, and we are working with our federal, local and university partners to better understand this variant and how it might impact Californians,” said Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist for CDPH. “It’s too soon to know if this variant will spread more rapidly than others, but it certainly reinforces the need for all Californians to wear masks and reduce mixing with people outside their immediate households to help slow the spread of the virus. We also urge anyone who has been exposed to the virus to isolate from others to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

CDPH is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local public health departments and laboratory partners to learn more about the variant, including how it spreads and any potential impact on vaccine efficacy.

“The clinical and epidemiological significance of this strain is not known and is being investigated,” said Dr. Edward Moreno, Monterey County health officer. “Also concerning is that this case represents the first local evidence of infection, recovery and repeat infection.”

Due to the ongoing surge of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, regardless of circulating variants, the Monterey County Health Department is asking all residents to keep taking steps that will limit transmission of the virus and reduce strain on local health care systems. This includes: 

  • Staying home except for essential activities;
  • Wearing a mask when leaving home; 
  • Limiting interactions with people outside your immediate household; 
  • Keeping physical distance of at least 6 feet apart; 
  • Washing hand for 20 seconds; and 
  • Getting the Covid-19 vaccine if you are eligible and when vaccine is available.

For more information about Covid-19 and vaccinations, visit or call the Covid-19 Call Center at 831-769-8700 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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