SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The CDC lists Florida, Michigan and Minnesota as the states with some of the highest growth of more contagious COVID variants. South Dakota still shows just 20 cases of variants, a number that hasn’t changed in two weeks.
South Dakota State Epidemiologist, Dr. Joshua Clayton, says if it hasn’t already, he expects the U.K. variant will become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in South Dakota.
He also says more young people are being infected and they need to be aware that the U.K. variant spreads easier and it can be more severe in some cases.
“Such as the 20 to 29-year-old population, perhaps due to just the increased rate of transmission of the B-117 variant, but just in general individuals in that age group do need to pay attention to some of the prevention and precautions in order to avoid the transmission of COVID-19 the original virus as well as the new variant virus,” said Clayton.
As of Thursday, Minnesota is the only state bordering South Dakota that has new information listed on the CDC website concerning variants. And if the variant’s growth in Minnesota is any indication, we can expect a significant increase the next time the official numbers come out.
Minnesota officials have described the state’s vaccination progress as a race against the more contagious virus variants.
South Dakota’s State Health Lab, the CDC and private labs are all doing the genetic sequence testing to track down variants in South Dakota. Clayton could not say how many cases they’ve found, but all evidence points to high numbers of the variants in the coming weeks.
“At this time we are looking to add some information to our website that further defines what we are seeing in those variants in terms of affected populations,” said Clayton.
The good news is, the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are still shown to be effective in fighting off the current variants.
Clayton says recent studies have shown the UK variant is 50 percent more transmissible than the original COVID-19 virus.