UK variant detected in county

A COVID-19 vaccination is prepared prior to inoculation. Courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

HUDSON — Columbia County on Friday reported its first confirmed case of the UK variant of COVID-19.

Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said Friday afternoon he had received confirmation of one case of the UK variant in the county.

The UK variant of the virus has been determined to spread more easily than other variants, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first known case in the U.S. was confirmed in December 2020.

The Columbia County case was found through random testing by Wadsworth Center, the state laboratory in Albany, which runs the COVID-19 tests for the county.

“There are other positives around here. The state Health Department is sequencing the DNA to see if there is more of a cluster or if it’s just the single person,” Mabb said.

After other area COVID tests are sequenced it will be known if more cases of the UK variant are in the county.

Not every COVID test is screened for all of the different strains of the virus, Mabb said, adding it is likely Wadsworth Center randomly examines some of the tests for different strains of the virus.

At this time the county has not reported any cases of the other variants of the virus, such as those first found in Brazil and South Africa.

The CDC reported that experts in the United Kingdom believe the UK variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared to other variant viruses, but more studies are needed to confirm their findings. It has since been detected in many countries around the world.

New York state reported its first case of the UK variant in early January in an employee at a jewelry store in Saratoga Springs. Wadsworth Laboratory sequenced the virus from five additional employees from the jewelry store who had tested positive for COVID-19 and confirmed the UK strain was present in two of those individuals, according to an announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The Columbia County Department of Health reported one new COVID-related death Thursday, bringing the total number of virus deaths in the county to 88, with 38 taking place since the beginning of the year. Greene County has had 67 COVID-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, with 40 reported in 2021.

In recent weeks the numbers of new COVID cases in both counties has slowed significantly since the peak in January.

“It’s interesting because eight seems to be the magic number,” Mabb said Friday. “Probably in the last week or so, out of seven days we had five days where the number of new cases was eight, this morning it was 12, so it’s still hovering around there.”

The number of hospitalizations in the county has remained around 10 for the past several days, Mabb said.

There are still people who are seriously ill in the county from the virus, Mabb said, with two in the intensive care unit. One is on a ventilator and one has had a tracheostomy to aid with getting air into the lungs.

“Just a couple of short weeks ago we were up around 30 hospitalizations,” Mabb said. “That has gotten better.”

The Columbia County Department of Health reported 3,587 positive COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. There are 227 people in mandatory quarantine with 74 active cases in the county, according to the Department of Health. This represents the lowest number of active cases reported since the beginning of December. The number of active cases in the county hit a peak of 515 on Jan. 22, and the infection rate has been gradually dropping over the past several weeks.

The Greene County Public Health Department reports a total of 2,597 positive COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 88 active cases. The number of active cases is higher than it was earlier in the month when there were several days of active cases in the mid- to low 60s.

The state’s COVID vaccine tracker website keeps record of the amount of COVID vaccines given to each county, this includes vaccines that have been administered by county health departments, in nursing homes and care facilities and by pharmacies in those counties. In Columbia County, 10,994 first doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered to residents and 5,235 of those people have received their second dose of the vaccine, according to the state’s COVID vaccine tracker website.

In Greene County 6,666 people have received the first dose of the vaccine and 3,243 people have received both doses.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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