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Health Department IDs Missouri’s First Case of Virus Variant

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COLUMBIA, MO (AP) – The Missouri Health Department announced Tuesday that it had identified the first case of a new variant vaccine in the state.

The Missouri Department of Health announced that a Jackson County resident tested positive for a variant of COVID-19, which was first identified in South Africa.

The agency said a commercial laboratory identified the variant during genome sequencing.

The Director of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Randall Williams, in a statement urged people to continue to take preventive measures like wearing a mask and social distancing as new varieties spread across Missouri.

“We continue to urge individuals to get vaccinated if they are able,” said Williams. “The vaccines currently available in the US appear to be effective against these variant viruses.”

Missouri found cases of another variant as early as February, which was first identified in the UK. The agency said there are at least 35 active cases of this faster-spreading variant in the state.

Meanwhile, the University of Missouri plans to offer full-capacity in-person courses and activities on the Columbia campus for the fall semester beginning in August, university officials said Tuesday.

University President Mun Choi said in a press release that school officials will keep in touch with local health officials when planning soccer, concerts and classes. The university had 13 active student cases on Tuesday, Choi said.

Some faculties and staff are already working on campus, and all are expected to be back by May 17 in preparation for returning at full capacity this fall.

The seven-day moving average of daily new cases in Missouri has stabilized at about 590 for the past 14 days. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 28.5% of the population had received at least one dose of vaccine as of now Monday and 16.5% were fully vaccinated.

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Robert Dunfee