State Health officials keeping an eye on COVID variants as virus hits younger groups

Coronavirus

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — More young people are at risk because of the COVID-19 variants — that’s according to the South Dakota health department.

Four different variants are now reported in 16 counties in South Dakota but are likely already spreading in others. So far, state health officials have confirmed 62 variant cases of COVID-19 in South Dakota.

Testing in the state is called sentinel surveillance. The state takes a certain portion of all the positive specimens and runs them through a complicated testing process that involves DNA sequencing. State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton says the test results are used as an indicator of wider transmission

“Because there is not the infrastructure, you know across any laboratory in the state to sequence all of the positive specimens that are received,” said Clayton.

According to the health department, we are seeing the largest increase in infections among people in their 20s and 30s. Health officials urge young people to get vaccinated as more contagious variants could pose a growing danger to them.

“At this point, the vast majority of those variants have been identified as the B 1.1.7, which we do know, the impact that we do know is a 50 percent greater transmission which means it’s going to be a little bit faster at spreading throughout the community and there is potential for that virus to cause greater hospitalization and death,” said Clayton.

Dr. Clayton now says every age group is impacted by the COVID-19 variants.

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