Richmond/Henrico health officials offer warning about COVID-19 variants

Richmond/Henrico health officials offer warning about COVID-19 variants

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia is reporting 349 B.1.1.7 variant cases. While that may not sound like a lot, on average the state only sees a few handfuls of virus variants total each year.

It’s alarming for local health districts like Richmond and Henrico. The Central Region is reporting 81 cases of that variant.

“Vaccination is going to be important and of course those continued measures until a higher percentage of adults are vaccinated which is our best protection against further variants increasing and/or another COVID surge in infections,” said Amy Popovich, RHHD Nurse Manager.

Back in February, a person living in Central Virginia was the first diagnosed in the area with the B.1.1.7 variant.

It’s more contagious, among other concerns. Health officials think the current total is well below the true count. But detecting that variant takes a second test and isn’t used often.

“In depth testing that’s a second step beyond the detection of the virus is the how related are these two viruses or these three viruses,” said Dr. Melissa Viray, Richmond/Henrico Health Districts.

Richmond/Henrico Health Districts officials say even if you are fully vaccinated you still need to be careful and avoid medium and large group settings as well as the workplace.

Richmond and Henrico Health Districts are still receiving between 12,000 and 13,000 first doses. They’ve spread the 15,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine over a series of recent events, but future doses are uncertain right now.

“However we are not sure of what to expect of J&J doses in the future due to that manufacturing issue,” said Popovich.

The health district remains in 1C. They won’t move to phase two until they get everyone on the registration list an appointment. The state makes that move April 18.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.