A confirmed COVID-19 variant case found in PA; Pennsylvania recommends sending elementary kids back to school

by PublicSource reporters

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine reported Thursday that a confirmed COVID-19 variant case was found in Dauphin County. This COVID-19 variant was first discovered in the UK in December. The individual who tested positive in Pennsylvania had mild symptoms which have been resolved after their home isolation. This individual tested positive after known international exposure and a case investigation. Contact tracing was conducted to identify other individuals who came in close contact with the positive case. Dr. Levine mentioned that Pennsylvania in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control has been preparing itself for the COVID-19 variant’s arrival. 

“Pennsylvania has been preparing for this variant by working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has been sending 10-35 random samples biweekly to the CDC since November to study sequencing and detect any potential cases for this new COVID-19 variant,” Dr. Levine said. 

According to the CDC, the COVID-19 virus can mutate regularly since mutations among viruses are common. The CDC expects that all currently available diagnostic tests will detect the variant as COVID-19 and that the COVID-19 vaccines with federal Emergency Use Authorizations will be effective against this variant as well.

While Dr. Levine said that there is still much that is unknown about the COVID-19 variant, public health experts are working to study the virus and understand how this new variant spreads and affects those who are infected. 

“There is still much to learn about this new variant, so we need to remain vigilant and continue to urge Pennsylvanians to stop the spread by washing their hands, practicing social distancing, avoiding gatherings, downloading COVID Alert PA and answering the call. Stay calm, stay alert and stay safe,” Dr. Levine said.

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Allegheny County Health Department reported 664 new COVID-19 cases and 10 new deaths Thursday. The new cases, from positive tests dated Nov. 27 to Jan. 6, come from individuals four months old to 107 years old, with a median age of 43.

Among the new deaths, dated Jan. 1 to Jan. 6, one person was in their 70s, five people in their 80s, and three in their 90s. One person was more than 100 years old.  To date, Allegheny County Health Department has reported 58,371 cases, 1,067 deaths from the virus and 3,315 past and present hospitalizations.

Allegheny County’s COVID-19 vaccination program will soon quicken, just as it expects a new, more contagious form of the virus to arrive.

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A confirmed COVID-19 variant case found in PA; Pennsylvania recommends sending elementary kids back to school

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