By Nicole Nielsen

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County officials are expressing their concern after the county reported its first known case of the coronavirus variant originally discovered in the United Kingdom. The strain is known as SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7.

The man in his 20’s has no recent travel history outside of the U.S., health officials said on Saturday. He is currently stable in isolation as the county works to contact trace.

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“Yes the virus is here, we are doing a robust contact trace on this one person,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Though the case, now the third known in Texas, is believed to already have been established here.

“He is definitely not the only person in our county that has this,” said Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang. “We are thinking it’s probably here, and this is just our first official confirmation of that.”

But how it got here is still unknown. Dr. Huang says county epidemiologists are working to learn more.

“We found him but there’s probably dozens more if not hundreds more with this strain already in the community—who are asymptomatic and don’t know they’re spreading it,” Jenkins said.

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In a study released Friday, the CDC projected the new variant to be the dominant source of infection by March, since it is believed to be 70% more contagious. Though it is not understood to be dangerous.

It’s a major concern for Dallas County who, as of Friday, only had 23 adult ICU beds remaining, according to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.

“If you start increasing the numbers that are getting it because it’s more easily transmitted, then that is concerning- especially with our hospital numbers being at record highs,” Dr. Huang said.

Dr. Huang says the first case was caught through sampling at a specialty lab and that not all COVID-19 tests detect the strain.

Experts do believe that the current vaccine works against it. But Jenkins says we have to protect ourselves before more mutations form.

“This new variant is still within the effective fuel rate of our vaccine, but it will keep mutating and Eventually we will get a variant that this vaccine won’t work on. And so we have to work like hell to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” Jenkins said.

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Nicole Nielsen