Health officials: Too early to tell how serious new Kentucky COVID-19 variant is

A new COVID-19 variant has been detected is in Kentucky.
Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 12:11 PM EDT
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KENTUCKY (WKYT) - A new COVID-19 variant has been detected is in Kentucky.

Governor Andy Beshear announced Tuesday an eastern Kentucky nursing home is dealing with an outbreak with 41 people testing positive for the variant. The governor says it is not any of the variants we know about from the UK, South African and Brazil.

Beshear says 27 residents and 14 staff have tested positive. Of the 41 people infected, 30 percent of those vaccinated showed symptoms, but 83 percent of those not vaccinated showed symptoms.

Five people have been sent to the hospital. One was vaccinated, the other four were not. Experts believe an unvaccinated person brought the new variant into the facility.

With this new variant in eastern Kentucky, state officials and health experts are stressing the importance of COVID-19 vaccines. They say getting vaccinated involves not only you, but other people.

“Everyone you come into contact with can be impacted by your decision about the vaccine,” said Dr. Greg Repass with Baptist Health. “It’s really important that you make that decision and really make the best decision for you and those around you.”

Health officials say it’s too early to tell just how serious this variant is. They say it does not appear to be one of the common variants seen in the UK, South Africa, or Brazil.

“What we do know is that some of the major variants going on at a worldwide level were still protected from those with the vaccines that are available,” said Dr. Repass. “It just further emphasizes that our best thing to do right now facing these new variants, and facing this uncertainty, is to emphasize vaccination, masking, social distancing, hand washing. All those things.”

In this eastern Kentucky nursing home, Beshear says only 48 percent of health workers have been vaccinated and only 85 percent of residents.

Officials say getting vaccinated reduces your chances of getting sick and being hospitalized.

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