While Paul Macgown and Diane Gil were in flight from Denver back to New York City, Colorado confirmed the United States' first case of the COVID-19 variant, originally discovered in the United Kingdom.
“It is scary, but I think we did our part to stay safe,” said Gil.
The couple was visiting family for the holidays and say they have taken all the precautions, including quarantining and getting tested.
Now that they're back home in New York, they say they plan on doing the same, even packing a safety kit for their commute home.
“We have an extra set of gloves, a new disposable mask and a face shield,“ explained Gil.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced Tuesday evening the strain, referred to as B.1.1.7, was found in a man in his 20s.
According to health officials, that man is now in isolation and has no history of travel.
Scientist in the U.K. believe this new variant is highly contagious, up to 70% more than the original strain.
Angelica Scanu says she was anxious about traveling home for the holidays.
“I know this is one of the most irresponsible times to fly, I am not proud of myself, but I have not seen my family for such a long time. So, I think everyone is going to do the right thing and hopefully they do,” explained Scanu.
Health officials are performing contract tracing and investigating other potential cases to determine the spread of the variant throughout the state.
Governor Polis says Colorado is doing everything it can to prevent and contain the spread.
The discovery of the new strain prompted the Centers for Disease Control to update rules for travelers arriving to the U.S. from the U.K., requiring proof of a negative test.
Some travelers believe if it's in Colorado, it's already in New York.
“Lord, please protect me and just use this and sanitizers, you know,” said Long Islander Eileen Cooper.
“We’ve heard the warnings loud and clear from the U.K. about this new, likely more transmissible strain of the virus that causes COVID-19,” the city's health commissioner said in a statement. “That’s why our laboratory professionals – including the scientists at the New York City Public Health Lab – are testing specimens to search for and to determine what is circulating in New York City. This is yet another reminder that the fight against COVID-19 is not yet won. Vigilance is needed on all fronts, and we must continue taking the precautions that we know work: mask up, keep distance, get tested, wash hands and stay home if you’re ill. We’ll need to recommit to these core public health measures even as we ramp up vaccination efforts in the coming weeks.”
Scientist say not much is know about this new strain, and more studies need to be done.