The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is reporting the first confirmation of the South African coronavirus variant in the state was found in a Jackson County resident.
Officials confirmed the variant through the whole genome sequencing conducted through a commercial laboratory.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows 374 cases of the South African variant have been reported to the CDC in the United States as of April 5.
Officials report this variant is not known to cause more severe disease and it is not clear whether it spreads more readily than other strains. Although this strain can reduce the effectiveness of some vaccines, vaccines still provide strong protection against severe illness and death.
“We continue to encourage prevention measures to be in place as we identify more positive cases of these variants,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “We also continue to ask that individuals consider getting vaccinated when they are able. The vaccines that are currently available in the United States appear to be effective against these variant viruses.”
The UK variant was first identified in Missouri in February 2021.
More than a third of Boone County has received first dose of coronavirus vaccine
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services is reporting 20 new COVID-19 cases.
There are currently 69 active cases in the county.
The county now has a reported total number of COVID-19 cases of 17,971.
The county has reported the total number of cases removed from isolation is 17,817.
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services dashboard has reported the latest five-day average as 11.
The dashboard is reporting the positivity rate for March 26 through last Thursday is 7.6%.
The county continues to trend down as there have been 68 straight days of single or double-digit case increases.
The health department is reporting the total number of hospitalizations in Boone County is 16.
The number of Boone County residents hospitalized is reported to be three.
The dashboard is reporting two COVID-19 patients in the ICU and no patients on a ventilator.
The hospital status remains in 'Green' status. 'Green' status is when hospitals are operating within licensed bed capacity; accepting patient transfers from referring hospitals within standard care operating procedures.
The State of Missouri coronavirus vaccine dashboard is reporting that 61,961 residents have received their first dose in Boone County.
The county has the largest percentage of people in Mid-Missouri that have received at least one dose of the vaccine with 34.3%.
Cole County has the second-highest first vaccination rate in Mid-Missouri with 28.6%. Saline County is third with 28.5%.
State of Missouri creates weekly COVID-19 testing event in Jefferson City
The state of Missouri will now host community coronavirus testing sites in communities throughout the state to provide greater accessibility to testing options and to learn more about the prevalence of COVID-19 community transmission, especially in the early days of this public health emergency.
“We learned quickly in the early days of this public health crisis how important testing was to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “The demand for COVID-19 testing has changed throughout the last year, but it is still a vital factor in moving us beyond this virus.”
In Jefferson City, the state will host testing on the following Sunday , April 11 and 18, May 9 and 23 and June 13 and 27 at the American Legion #1423 at Tanner Bridge rd. from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“We remain concerned about variants arising throughout the US, so this means prevention measures and widespread testing are that much more crucial to move us beyond COVID-19,” said Williams. “Being aware of a COVID-19 diagnosis gives you the knowledge needed to protect yourself and those around you.”
No pre-registration or appointment is needed. A government-issued ID is not required, but if available will speed up the onsite registration process. Community testing events are free COVID-19 testing options.
Health officials administer nearly 5 million PCR tests in Missouri
As of Tuesday's COVID-19 dashboard update, nearly 5 million PCR tests have been administered in Missouri since the pandemic started.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said 4.96 million tests have been given out with at least 11% coming back positive, according to the dashboard.
The data said health officials averaged about 4,500 tests every day over the week ending on Saturday.
Health officials have performed a total of 6.3 million tests -- the number includes PCR, antigen and serology tests. PCR and antigen tests are both used to determine if a person has a case of COVID-19. Serology tests are used only to find out if someone has COVID-19 antibodies.
Missouri's seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate was reported at 4.5% -- the cumulative positivity rate was reported at 16.9%. Both rates have fallen over several months.
As the state's positivity rate has fallen, so has COVID-19 testing. Since mid-February health officials have not administered more than 66,000 tests in a week. From July 2020-January 2021, the department said the state was averaging at least 100,000 tests every week.
The dashboard said more than 491,000 Missourians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic started -- an increase of 309 from the day before.
Four more deaths were added to the state's pandemic death toll -- 8,508 total since March 2020.
Coronavirus vaccinations increased from the day before. The dashboard said more than 2.75 million vaccine doses have been administered with more than 1.7 million Missourians having initiated vaccination.
The health department data said a little more than 1 million state residents have completed vaccination.
Boone County had the best in the state vaccination rate with 34.3% of Boone Countians having initiated vaccination. It's a half-percent increase from the day before.