JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The chief of Alaska Public Health Laboratories says the state has not yet seen new variants of the coronavirus through its surveillance program. Jayme Parker says staff are “actively searching” through specimens as part of the surveillance. Several states have reported at least one known case of a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 that appears to spread more easily from person to person. Dr. Joe McLaughlin, the state epidemiologist, says new strains are concerning because they will translate to increased case counts. Health officials are urging Alaskans to take steps, such as wearing masks and maintaining distance, and to test before and after travel.