The head of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department told Springfield City Council Thursday that variants of COVID-19 had not been confirmed in the county, but “were likely here.”
Acting Director Katie Towns’ statement proved to be precognitiant as the Health Department confirmed on Friday the U.K. variant of the disease, B.1.1.7. of SARS-CoV-2, has been confirmed within the county. The individual with the variant tested positive at the beginning of March and their sample was tested at random by the Centers for Disease Control as part of their “genomic surveillance program.”
Investigators say the patient claims to have had no travel domestically or internationally.
“We knew that it was only a matter of time before we located the variant in our community,” Acting Health Director Katie Towns said in a statement. “We will stay vigilant and watch closely the indicators we are using to monitor the situation currently, including case counts and hospitalizations. Disease will spread as we move toward removing occupancy limitations and now that we have evidence that this variant is in our community, it makes it more important than ever for people to get vaccinated as soon as possible and protect against the severity of illness associated with the variant.”
Multiple studies have shown the vaccines for COVID-19 are effective against the U.K. variant, and Towns is encouraging residents who have not been vaccinated to immediately schedule an appointment.
Appointments can be made by visiting Vaccine417.com.