State Health Officials Say COVID-19 Variant Could Be In Oklahoma


Thursday, January 21st 2021, 10:36 pm
By: Erica Rankin


OKLAHOMA CITY -

Scientists in the U.K. discovered a new COVID-19 variant. Oklahoma health officials are anticipating by March it will be spread widely in our state if we don’t take preventive measures now.

Chief medical officer at SSM Health St. Anthony, Dr. Kersey Winfree admitted there’s still a lot to learn about the new strain.

“The virus itself does not cause any worse disease that we know in humans,” said Winfree.

What health officials have discovered is that the new strain does spread much faster.

States across the U.S. have positively identified the U.K. strain to be within their borders. The CDC said Oklahoma is not one of them.

But according to our state epidemiologist, Dr. Jared Taylor, the variant could be in Oklahoma.

In a statement to News 9 he said a small group of tests were sent to labs to be examined closer.

“The results suggest that mutations were present in several of them, including one that matched the profile of the U.K. strain,” said Taylor. “Because of the research nature of the work, the results are not definitive.”

It is hard to really tell if the virus is here officials said because that kind of testing isn’t in Oklahoma.

“That testing really occurs in specialty labs that the Center for Disease Control operates that is not standard testing for the types of agents and tests we use to identify the disease here in Oklahoma,” said Winfree.

Whether or not the new variant is in the state Winfree said Oklahomans need to still proceed with caution.

“Social distancing, hand hygiene, wearing a mask and if you have access to the vaccination that is something, we want to encourage people to participate in,” said Winfree.

South Africa and Brazil are also reporting two other variants of the virus. But they have not been confirmed in the U.S.