TULSA, Okla. — State health officials identified a new COVID-19 variant in Oklahoma. Through Oklahoma’s new public health lab in Stillwater, the new variant is now on the list of 20 other variants concerning health officials.
On Monday, the lab discovered the first African variant within the state. Health leaders at Oklahoma State Dept. of Health are now working alongside the local health department, where it was discovered, to investigate how the patient contracted the virus.
Joli Stone, the deputy state epidemiologist, says about half of the variants identified were the European strain, which is more transmittable. The lab also found the two California strains and the Brazilian variant.
OSDH is now asking physicians to contact them if they find a patient exhibiting symptoms, unlike the traditional COVID infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are likely more mutations of the virus out there, but these are the strains that pose a greater risk of community-spread. Luckily, the vaccine will still help protect against all of the known variants.
“The vaccines have done an outstanding job of reducing our hospitalizations and one of the primary ways to prevent COVID from spreading whether it’s a variant or a wild type,” Stone said.
More than 500,000 people are fully vaccinated, according to state data. That totals to only 14% of the state’s population. Health leaders say we still have a long way to go before Oklahoma reaches herd immunity. Until then, COVID-19 safety protocols will like to remain in effect.
“If we don’t achieve sustainability when it comes to herd immunity, then masking will likely be a part of our daily lives,” Stone said.
All Oklahomans are now eligible to get a vaccine. To schedule an appointment through the state’s vaccine portal by CLICKING HERE.
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