Mineral County has confirmed 'U.K. variant'

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
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KEYSER - The Mineral County Health Department confirmed Monday that a case of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, otherwise known as the “U.K. variant,” has been detected in Mineral County.

Health department administrator A.Jay Root told the News Tribune that the variant was discovered during routine testing of random samples obtained from those who have been tested for COVID-19 in the county.

He declined to give specifics about the person who tested positive for the variant for privacy and safety reasons.

Root said he was not surprised by the positive result.

“It’s been in every other county around us,” he said, noting that Hampshire, Hardy and Grant counties have all had at least one case of the variant.

Referred to as the “U.K. variant” because it was first detected in the United Kingdom, B.1.1.7 is a mutation of the original COVID-19 strain of coronaviruses and was first detected in the United States in December 2020.

Root said the variant, which is much more easily spread than the initial COVID-19 virus and is considered more deadly, has been detected in all ages.

Announcement of the variant’s arrival in Mineral County came during a continued uptick in COVID positives in the county. On Friday, the health department reported 117 current cases.

Root said, however, as the health department staff moves through the most recent followup reports Monday and Tuesday, he expects that number to go down.

He is adamant, however, that COVID-19 is here to stay for awhile and everyone needs to continue to take precautions against the virus.

“Protect yourself and others against COVID-19 by wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart, avoiding crowds, washing your hands, and getting vaccinated when it’s available to you,” he said in the Facebook post.

“These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.”

Also on Friday, the health department announced two additional county residents had died due to COVID-related issues, bringing the county’s total of COVID-related deaths to 83.

On April 13 the health department reported an additional six COVID-related deaths which had not previously been reported to Mineral County by the state and had gone back as far as December. Prior to that, the last COVID-related death in Mineral County was reported on Feb. 8.

Root urges Mineral County residents who have not yet received their vaccine to sign up as soon as they can.

“Our vaccine clinics have definitely dropped off,” he said, adding that a clinic is scheduled for Wednesday and is by appointment. County residents age 18 and older only need to call the health department at 304-788-1321 to make an appointment to get vaccinated.