UK Variant Spreads in Tri-State, Strain Now Dominant One in U.S.

25 Kentucky counties are now reporting at least one case of the UK variant, and as numbers increase the need to reach herd immunity is becoming even more pressing.

Posted: Apr 7, 2021 10:44 PM
Updated: Apr 8, 2021 6:51 AM

Hopkins County health officials sounded the alarm Wednesday, confirming the first case of the highly contagious UK variant in the community.

"The longer the variants are in the community the more likely that they could keep replicating and the vaccine be not as effective," Hopkins County Public Health Director Denise Beach said.

This comes as the CDC reports the UK variant of the Coronavirus is now the most dominant strain in the country.

"Based on our most recent estimates from CDC's surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in the latest White House briefing.

Preliminary CDC data suggests the percentage of UK variant cases more than doubled from late February to mid-March, jumping from 11% to 27%.

And Governor Andy Beshear said the Bluegrass State is seeing numbers rise by the day.

"83 identified cases in Kentucky," Beshear said. "It is fueling in some places; a pretty significant increase in cases."

25 counties are now reporting at least one case of the UK variant, and as numbers increase the need to reach herd immunity is becoming even more pressing.

Sen. Mitch McConnell stopped at Baptist Health Madisonville Wednesday echoing community health officials' push for more vaccinations.

“It looks to me like we’re on pace to beat the goal before the summer, and the goal is 75%," McConnell said. "Heard immunity by the summer hopefully, and then back to normal.”

Current data shows vaccines do work against these variants, so as they continue to spread Tri-State leaders say it's vital to sign up and get your shot.

"We've gotta defeat COVID-19. It's more dangerous with the variant," Beshear said. "You need to protect yourself."

Experts say though current vaccines are effective against known strains, because the UK variant is more contagious and possibly more deadly than the original COVID-19 strain, it could explain why cases continue to rise despite the rate of vaccinations.

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In their latest convective outlook, the Storm Prediction Center has reduced our threat for severe weather. Much of the Tri-State remains Under a “1” and a “2” on the Threat Index. Strong winds remain the greatest threat from any storms that develop. Overcast skies for most of the day hindered much of our potential for Severe Weather. A cold front and associated low currently passing through the Tri-State may still produce a potentially Severe thunderstorm or two. The latest model data seems to be in agreement that the greatest likelihood for impactful weather won’t arrive until our greatest threat for Severe Weather concludes. A line of showers and storms will reach out westernmost communities around 5:30 PM. From there, the rainfall will reach Evansville, Henderson and Madisonville by 7PM before pushing in over Owensboro and Jasper before 8PM. Scattered showers may linger for a time following the passage of the initial line of rainfall, making for a damp and cooler evening ahead.
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