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COVID-19 Variants and the Importance of Staying Vigilant

By George “Bud” Scholl, Mayor

(Thursday, April 1, 2021) – With the State of Florida expanding eligibility for the coronavirus vaccination, we are working toward reaching a fully vaccinated community. But the risk of COVID-19 is still present. As the coronavirus spreads over time, it is more susceptible to mutation, which is how we are seeing new variants arise around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is collaborating with other public health agencies to detect and characterize emerging variants. There are several variants circulating globally since fall of 2020, including the UK, South Africa, and Brazil variants. Scientists are studying these variants to gain a better understanding of how easily they can spread and how effective the currently authorized vaccinations are against them.

There are several potential consequences of the emerging variants in the U.S. One of the main concerns is that these variants have the ability to spread more quickly in people. It has also been suggested, based on current evidence, that the UK variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants. However additional studies are needed to confirm this finding. Variants may also have the ability to evade natural or vaccine-inducted immunity.

While more individuals are receiving the vaccine, the need to stay vigilant is still strong. The FDA has authorized the use of three vaccines to prevent COVID-19, and according to the CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine.

But there are unknown answers about whether those vaccinated can still spread the virus. This is why it is important to take care in protecting yourself and your family. Facial coverings should still be worn in public, you should still maintain six feet of distance between those not in your own household, and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

It is still recommended that you avoid medium or large-sized gatherings, as well as delay domestic and international travel. If you have been around someone who is sick or you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested, stay home, and stay away from others.

We need to reduce the risk of being exposed to the virus and spreading it to others. Get vaccinated, follow the CDC’s guidelines, and together we can work toward a safe and healthy community.

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