Health experts say this newly found variant is more contagious. It was first identified in the UK



Health experts say this newly found variant is more contagious. It was first identified in the UK and has now reached over thirty countries and eight states, including Tennessee.


“I know for a fact the state has had two confirmed cases with this new variant of this virus, and that was in middle Tennessee,” said Kim Tedford, Regional Director of Jackson Madison County Health Department.


It is also known as B.1.1.7. to keep track of new cases, the CDC is launching national strain surveillance.


“Those specimens are obtained and sent to CDC for the genotyping to be done with those variants,” said Tedford.


The surveillance requires each state to submit ten samples for sequencing. As of now, the CDC and state-level health officials say the vaccine can prevent people from catching the new variant.


While b.1.1.7 is in Tennessee, there could be an uptick in cases. Local hospitals have dealt with high numbers of patients before, and West Tennessee Healthcare’s Amy Garner says they are prepared for the future.


“We are going to treat patients the same way we have been all along and pray that those numbers don’t continue to go back up,” said Garner.


According to the health department, B.1.1.7 has not affected anyone in Jackson. The public is encouraged to wear masks and social distance.


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