KDHE analyzing Ellis County COVID-19 sample for variant markers

State's 1st variant case reported there last week
Virus Outbreak France
Posted at 5:23 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 18:23:40-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is analyzing a sample of coronavirus from Ellis County for evidence it is the U.K. variant of COVID-19, Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said Wednesday.

A single case of the B.1.1.7 virus variant appeared in a student-athlete last week.

The next day, Norman said, KDHE dispatched a team of testers and investigators to Ellis County to test “any and all” members of Fort Hays State University and the surrounding community.

Of 196 tests, only one additional came back positive. Norman said that was “quite remarkable” but not reason enough to relax public health measures.

The person who tested positive was again tested over the weekend by the Ellis County Health Department.

That sample was then sent to the KDHE lab in Topeka for further analysis to see if it is the B.1.1.7 variant.

The B.1.1.7 variant is notable for its ability to spread faster than the original COVID-19 strain.

Health officials in Kansas previously said they believe variants are likely already more widespread in the state than just the single case.

Norman said because of the university’s COVID-19 protocols, there were not many close contacts to the original variant case.

On a larger scale, the state of Kansas will continue to offer free COVID-19 tests through the end of March, Gov. Laura Kelly said.

The state’s vaccination efforts also continue, with the Biden administration expected to ship close to 90,000 doses of vaccine to the state next week.