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Three COVID-19 Variants Are 90% Of Samples Sequenced Locally

Hannah A. Bullock, Azaibi Tamin/CDC via AP

Coronavirus variants are the more dominant and common strains of the virus in the state, according to the health department’s state laboratories division.

The Department of Health detected the state’s first variants in January. Since then, three variants make up 90% of the samples sequenced by the department.

The highly transmissible UK variant, also known as B117, is the most dominant strain now. But health officials are concerned with the P1 Brazilian strain which is also highly infectious and can be more resistant to antibodies.

Acting state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble says the available vaccines are still an effective way to combat the virus.

"Getting vaccinated still protects you against both the severe outcomes and it makes it less likely you’ll be infected with that variant strain," she said. "As we see our numbers climb for vaccinations, we’re getting close to 50% in the state having completed being fully vaccinated."

"That does allow us to loosen up some of the mitigation measures and outdoors is the place to start because we also have a lot of good data showing that transmissions are much less likely in an outdoor, open-air setting," Kemble said.

Governor David Ige earlier this week lifted the state’s mask mandate for outdoor settings. Masks are still required while indoors.

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