GOLDENDALE — Klickitat County Health Department (KCHD) was notified June 9 that the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, commonly known as the UK variant, has been identified in Klickitat County, according to a press release.

The variant is recognized by the Center for Disease Control and Washington State Department of Health as a concerning variant because of the high rate of transmission.

Based on current published studies found on the CDC’s variant information website, B.1.1.7 has the potential to cause more severe symptoms and increase the risk of death in individuals who are infected.

Current research suggests available vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations caused by variant strains of COVID-19.

According to the press release, variant information was gathered through public health surveillance testing for variant strains, not for the purposes of clinical or public health management of individuals. As a result, the sample was not correlated to an individual.

Although this is the first detected variant in Klickitat County, it is likely that other cases exist in the community, according to county health officials.

KCHD will continue to respond to COVID-19 with the current course of action. This includes encouraging community members to get vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Community members can schedule their vaccinations online through KCHD at us1.quickscreen.health/klickitat-county-vaccination#/screening or by calling NorthShore Medical, Skyline Health, or Klickitat Valley Health for a vaccine appointment.

Residents without internet or computer access can still make appointments over the phone by calling the Health Department at 509-773-4565 or 509-493-1558.

Health officials warn individuals who are not vaccinated should still wear a mask and everyone should continue good hand washing.