Health officials confirm additional coronavirus variants in South Dakota

Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 10:51 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota Department of Health confirms additional variants of the COVID-19 virus have been found in the state.

Officials on Thursday confirmed one case of the South African variant and five cases of the California variant.

The announcement comes two weeks after state officials detected cases of the U.K. variant, which was the first variant confirmed in the state. The number of U.K. variant cases reported in the state is now 14.

“The appearance of new variants is something we have been tracking and preparing for,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton. “Continuing mitigation practices, like washing hands, social distancing, and staying home when you are sick, help slow transmission rates. Getting tested as soon as COVID-19 symptoms are detected is key.”

Health officials say the South African variant case was confirmed in Brookings County, while all five California variant cases were confirmed in Roberts County. The U.K. variant has been detected in Brookings, Lyman, Minnehaha, and Pennington counties.

Clayton said available COVID-19 vaccines have shown some reduced effectiveness against these variants, but are safe and offer good protection. The Department of Health strongly encourages state residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

On Monday, vaccination priority group 1E was opened statewide, covering approximately 227,000 South Dakotans. This group includes all critical infrastructure workers. Find more details about vaccine availability on the state’s website.

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