Erie County has reported a second lab-confirmed case of COVID-19’s B.1.1.7. variant, commonly known as the U.K. variant.
State health officials notified the Erie County Department of Health about the case Friday, said Charlotte Berringer, R.N., director of community health for the county health department. The person, whose name was not released due to patient privacy laws, was tested for COVID-19 in late February.
“The person was not hospitalized and there is no known connection to the first case of the variant,” Berringer said.
The county’s initial case of the U.K. variant was announced March 17. Another possible case had been linked to the initial one, but there has been no lab confirmation, Berringer said.
The U.K. variant is a concern because it spreads more easily and quickly than the original COVID-19 strains, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Studies are also determining if this variant increases the risk of death.
“Knowing this variant spreads more easily, there is certainly more of it in the community though we can’t quantify it,” Berringer said.
The current COVID-19 vaccines appear to protect people against the U.K. variant, according to the CDC.
Several large-scale clinics have been scheduled in the county this week for people in Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination plan.
Clinics were scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday at the Booker T. Washington Center, 1720 Holland St., Wednesday at the Bayfront Convention Center, 1 Sassafras Pier, and on Friday at Erie Insurance Arena, 809 French St.
“Planning for additional mass clinics over the coming weeks is underway,” said Monica Lewis, a spokeswoman for Saint Vincent, which is partnering with the county health department for the Erie Insurance Arena clinic.
UPMC Hamot is also vaccinating people in Phase 1A at the UPMC Health Plan Operations Center, 380 E. Bayfront Highway, on Tuesdays through Fridays. Hamot has received nearly 17,000 doses of vaccine over the past three weeks, the most of any organization in the county.
“I think this vaccine will allow us an opportunity to proceed through our wait list aggressively,” said Jason Chenault, Hamot’s director of emergency services. “The more vaccine we get, the more likely we can add more clinic days, such as weekend or Monday clinics.”
Registration is required to get vaccinated at all the clinics. To register, contact one of the following organizations:
- UPMC Hamot: You can visit https://vaccine.upmc.com or call 844-UPMCVAC (876-2822).
- Saint Vincent Hospital: You can visit https://www.ahn.org or sign up for AHN MyChart. You can also call 814-CONNECT (266-6328). Do not call Saint Vincent directly.
- LECOM Center for Health & Aging: You can visit http://lecom.eventbrite.com, call 866-LECOM19 or email email@example.com.
- Booker T. Washington Center: You can call call 814-453-5744, Ext. 266.
- Erie Veterans Affairs Medical Center: Any veteran enrolled and receiving care at Erie VAMC can get a vaccine. You can call 814-868-8661, press 2 to schedule your appointment.
Erie County reported 33 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The county has 18,374 total cases of COVID-19, 448 deaths and 64,769 negative tests since the pandemic started.
Sixteen county residents with COVID-19 were hospitalized Monday evening, including seven in intensive care units and one who needed a ventilator, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
There are 1,213 active cases of COVID-19 and 16,713 recovered cases in the county, according to estimates from the state health department.
At least 24,087 county residents are partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and 39,276 are fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.
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