Last week, a new, more contagious coronavirus (COVID-19) variant that was first discovered in the United Kingdom was found in Colorado.
RELATED: More coronavirus coverage from WKYC
And while the B.1.1.7 variant has yet to be found in Ohio, the state's Chief Medical Officer said it's not a matter of "if" but rather "when" it will be.
"This new variant has reached the United States and will undoubtedly soon reach Ohio too," Ohio Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said during Governor Mike DeWine's press briefing on Tuesday.
While Dr. Vanderhoff said that it's far from uncommon for a virus to mutate, he did note that this variant was worth monitoring. In particular, because the new variant is more contagious, it could lead to more people becoming infected.
"When we think about any virus, we have to remember that it is usual for viruses to change over time through a process called mutation," Dr. Vanderhoff said. "Most of these virus variants aren't very important because they don't actually change the behavior of the virus and many of them just disappear.
"The new U.K. variant of the virus known as variant B.1.1.7 that's been in many news reports is notable because it appears to be more contagious than other variants. However, it doesn't appear to be more severe, it doesn't appear to affect people who are already immune. Nevertheless, a more contagious virus worries us because it could lead to more people getting sick, more people getting hospitalized, ultimately, more people dying."
As a result, Dr. Vanderhoff stressed the need for people to continue to take the COVID-19-related safety precautions that have been touted since the start of the pandemic last year.
"Its appearance reinforces the importance of our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID -- the safety measures and our vaccines," he said. "Wearing masks, staying at least six-feet apart, avoiding crowds and frequent hand-washing. They'll all work against this new variant. And of course, vaccination, which we remain confident will cover this strain very nicely is also very important."
You can watch Gov. DeWine's full press briefing in the video player below.