MONTEREY (CBS SF) — Monterey County health officials recently learned that the L452R coronavirus variant of COVID-19 was identified locally following a genomic sequencing investigation by the California Department of Public Health, county officials said this week.

The L452R variant, which has also been dubbed the “California variant” for its role in recent outbreaks, is different from the B.1.1.7 variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom. The L452R variant was first found in Denmark last year and has been identified in other states as well.

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The variant has, to date, been identified in at least 12 counties across the state, including San Francisco and Santa Clara counties.

According to the Monterey County Health Department, the L452R variant has also appeared in the state more frequently since November.

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

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State and local health officials have noted that variations of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 are more indicative of the extent of the virus’ community spread rather than the virus mutating in response to therapeutics and vaccines.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, said during a briefing Tuesday that variations of the virus underscore the virus’ continuing threat as vaccines are rolled out across the state.

“We’re hopeful that we continue to keep our guard up, that we do all of the things like wear your mask, stay home when you can, many of the things that we’ve shared before so that we can keep transmission … down as much as possible,” he said.

Monterey County public health officials echoed that advice, reminding residents to limit interactions with people from different households and get a coronavirus vaccine once it is available.

Local information about the coronavirus for Monterey County residents can be found at montereycountycovid19.com.

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