More COVID-19 variants detected in Shelby County, health officials confirm

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Health officials said they have detected additional strains of the COVID-19 virus in Shelby County to date, including ones from Mexico.

According to David Sweat with the Memphis/Shelby County COVID-19 task force, the Mexico variant was discovered during testing last Friday. They have also detected the UK, Brazilian, New York and California variants.

There were concerns several months ago that the UK variant would become the dominant form of the virus in Shelby County by March. Sweat said that isn’t the case today, but the number of cases continues to rise, which is why it’s so important to get tested.

“One of the things we still need to do is to test people,” Sweat said. “People need to continue to be tested, because we’re averaging 120 plus cases everyday being reported. We had 5,100 plus cases in February reported, and we also had 218 deaths in February. We are nowhere near the end of the pandemic just yet.”

To encourage the community to get tested, the Shelby County Health Department and the Church of Ascension have partnered to provide free COVID-19 testing this weekend. They are specifically targeting the Latinx community, but said everyone is welcome to attend.

The event will be held on Saturday, March 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 3680 Ramill Road in Memphis. Those wishing to be tested will have to leave two phone numbers and an address to receive the test results, but health officials said that information will not be shared with any agencies other than the Tennessee Department of Health.

Testing is free and anyone over the age of five can participate regardless if they have symptoms or not. Interpreters will be on hand as well.

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