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Aspen students quarantined after student presumed to have more contagious COVID-19 strain

The student is believed to have the B117 variant, which was first found in the U.K. in December. The student has symptoms but did not require hospitalization.

ASPEN, Colo. — Pitkin County health and Aspen school officials are awaiting the results of roughly 30 to 35 COVID-19 tests given Friday to mostly lower-grade elementary students and two teachers to see if they are afflicted with a more contagious variant of the coronavirus.

Pitkin County Public Health administered Friday’s tests after a student at the elementary school tested positive for what is suspected to be a variation of the coronavirus, resulting in the quarantine of two classes. The result is some 30 families with elementary school children are in quarantine, according to Superintendent David Baugh.

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The student is believed to have the B117 variant, which was first found in the U.K. in December. The student has symptoms but did not require hospitalization.

The test from the student with the suspected variant will be further analyzed this weekend at a state lab for confirmation. The B117 strain is believed to transmit more easily — 30% to 35% higher, Pitkin County epidemiologist Josh Vance said Friday afternoon — but its long-term health risks remain unknown.

It would be the first time a student at the district has been known to have a strain of the coronavirus; Pitkin County has one confirmed variant case so far, Vance said. That case is unrelated to the one at the school, he said.

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