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Update: COVID-19 B.1.1.7 U.K. Variant in Putnam County

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As of today, Thursday March 25, there haven’t been any new cases of the COVID U.K. variant reported since yesterday’s release. Currently, in the North Central Health District (NCHD), Putnam County has three confirmed cases directly from private testing labs in Georgia while Houston County has two.
Since its arrival in the U.S. from Europe, this virus variant has been shown to be more infectious resulting in accelerated possibilities of spreading, said Michael Hokanson of the NCHD.
As the B.1.1.7 variant has arrived in Putnam, there are challenges related to getting a firm grip on the possible spreading, Hokanson continued.
First, he said, the three positive variant results from Putnam all came from private labs. The issue becomes the quantity of variant tests associated with COVID. Of all the “thousands” of tests performed in private labs, Hokanson said only about 200 were tested for the variant.
That, he said, means the NCHD is not entirely sure how many actual variant cases are in Putnam because the data from minimal testing is not available for precise study nor do reports of positive variant cases come into the NCHD on a daily and consistent basis.
However, Hokanson suggested changes to testing for the variant could be happening in the near future to a more concise public health department testing enterprise for the variant.
“This variant is a strong reminder the pandemic is not over,” Hokanson said. “We just need more data for research.”
What we do know is the three cases currently in Putnam were discovered in patients in the age range of 65 years to 79 years and is not linked to the Eatonton Health and Rehab Center.