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COVID-19 variant strain cases found in Franklin, Jefferson counties

NATCHEZ — Adams County emergency officials have their eye on a variant strain of COVID-19 first identified in the United Kingdom as cases of it have been found in Jefferson and Franklin counties.

According to data from the Mississippi State Department of Health released Saturday, two cases of the B.1.1.7 variant strain have been found in Franklin County and one in Jefferson County.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford alerted the Board of Supervisors of this strain before asking the board to extend the county’s COVID-19 emergency proclamation through April, which the board approved.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists from the U.K. reported evidence that suggests the B.1.1.7 variant “may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants.” The CDC states more studies are needed to confirm this finding.

“Scientists are working to learn more about these variants to better understand how easily they might be transmitted and the effectiveness of currently authorized vaccines against them,” the CDC says of the COVID-19 variants.

Bradford said Emergency Management’s goal is to have approximately 15,000 Adams County residents vaccinated before the Board of Supervisors loosens restrictions on gathering and lifts the requirement that masks or facial coverings be worn in public.

As of Monday, MSDH reported 13,769 shots had been given in Adams County.

“We did have some from Louisiana get that and it’s hard to determine how many of those were true residents of Adams County,” Bradford said.

He said emergency management distributed 19,000 washable facemasks and 1,646 bottles of hand sanitizer to county residents last weekend.

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