COVID variants identified in county

County sets new employee COVID policy

Angie Talken
Chillicothe News

There has been confirmed cases of both the U.K. and Indian variants of COVID in Livingston County, according to a press release from the Livingston County Health Center. The health center said there were lab confirmations from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services alerting them of the variants being present in both Livingston County and Linn County. 

According to the press release, "B.1.1.7-UK is labeled a variant of concern by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and has shown to be 50% more contagious than the original virus.

"B.1.617.2-Indian is labeled a variant of interest by the CDC, seems to take a smaller viral load to infect, and may be up to 50% more contagious than the U.K. variant.

The Missouri Department of Health estimates around 80% of current cases of COVID-19 in the state have been caused by the U.K. variant.

“We now know that Livingston County has two highly contagious COVID-19 variants circulating in the community. The good news is that treatment and prevention remain the same. The bad news is, without the help of our county residents, our hands are tied at doing much to slow down the spread of these variant cases locally,” said Sherry Weldon, RN, Health Center Administrator.

Ed Douglas, the presiding commissioner of Livingston County, said, on behalf of the commission that, “Everyone in this county from individuals to businesses and places of worship should be ultra-vigilant about prevention measures at this time. We need to go back to what we were doing at the beginning of the pandemic to slow the spread of this virus.”

All three types of vaccine being used in the United States have proven effective against the variants circulating in the nation, by lessening symptoms of COVID-19 and reducing hospitalization and death. Livingston County residents can get vaccinated on a walk-in basis at the health center on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. -12 p.m. and 1- 4 p.m... There is no out-of-pocket cost.

Health Center staff and the county commission would like to encourage all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to be vigilant about prevention measures like wearing a mask in public, washing hands frequently, staying home from work, church, summer school, daycare and everywhere else if you do not feel well and getting tested sooner rather than later, so close contacts can be notified.

New CDC guidelines state that a fully vaccinated person, who is exposed to COVID but has no symptoms does not have to quarantine. 

Douglas noted that the commission recently passed a new policy that falls in line with those suggestions. 

"If an employee is quarantined once - we will pay them for their 10 day quarantine time," he said. "However, if they are not vaccinated and have been exposed to COVID again, then they will have to use their own (leave) time to cover them during that quarantine."

"Without the vaccine, we may all be looking at having one quarantine after another - especially if this continues to spread," Douglas noted. "This is why the commission made this policy for county staff and why we are encouraging everyone to continue with wearings masks, washing their hands and social distancing. We all need to do our part to stop the spread."

As of June 2, the health center reported 1,1769 total confirmed positive cases to date; 132 active cases; with 24 of those cases being added since June 1. The health center also reported that 29.6% of county residents are fully vaccinated and 33.8% of residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine.