Presumptive positive case of Brazilian COVID-19 variant found in Shelby County

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Health officials said they have identified a presumptive case of the Brazilian variant in Shelby County.

As with other suspicious lab results, the test is being sent to the state for confirmation. At this time, it is not confirmed as the Brazilian variant.

Previously, the health department said they are investigating several presumptive positive case of the UK variant, but they have not yet confirmed those test results either.

It’s not uncommon for a virus to mutate. According to the BBC, the Brazil variant emerged in July 2020 and the UK variant emerged in September. Research suggests that the UK variant is between 30 to 50 percent more infectious, but not more deadly.

While we wait for the results from the state, health officials said they are not worried.

“We are not alarmed that these strains are being detected because we in Shelby County are conducting a pretty robust effort of trying to find these variants,” said David Sweat with the Shelby County Health Department.

The impact of the two Covid-19 variants found are minimal and they want to keep it that way. It’s important that everyone continues to take measures to mitigate the spread of Covid-19: wash your hands, social distance, wear a masks and quarantine if you get sick.

Current vaccinations efforts are critical in that. To date, 83,220 Covid vaccines have been distributed. More than 61,000 of those were the first dose and the remaining 22,000 were the second.

Roughly 30 percent of people 75 and over have been vaccinated.

Health officials also wanted to clarify some things about the second dose. The second dose serves as a booster for the first so there’s not a definitive time table on when you should get it. They usually encourage people to get it within six weeks of that 21st or 28th day.

“It doesn’t have a negative impact on the outcome,” Dr. Alisa Haushalter said. “I think what is most important is it causes a lot of people a lot of undue anxiety because they want to get that shot on the day they believe it should be given which is the 21st or 28th day.”

They are also working to make second dose appointments automatic.

With Shelby County currently receiving about 11,000 doses from the state each week, health leaders said it’s critical they end up in the arms of those in need. To those who have lied about their eligibility to get a vaccine, Haushalter wanted to make sure they realize they are putting another person in serious risk.

“Every time someone who is not eligible for a vaccine makes an appointment, gets in line and gets a vaccine, that means someone who is at risk of dying from Covid did not get an opportunity for a vaccine,” she said.

When it comes to vaccinating teachers, the health department said that would probably begin in March. They said they still have to vaccinate a good portion of the population who are “most at risk” for contracting Covid.

A new health directive is expected next week.

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