Top Kansas official expects ‘pockets’ of variant

Top health official says UK variant of coronavirus likely will become the state's dominant strain. Winter weather has delayed the state's vaccination distribution.


State News

February 17, 2021 - 9:24 AM

Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary Lee Norman says the second case in Kansas of the UK variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed. Photo by (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is likely to have pockets of a new, more contagious coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, and public health officials believe it could become the state’s dominant strain, the head of the state health department said Tuesday.

Dr. Lee Norman also said that winter weather across the central and eastern U.S. has created a “brief speed bump” in the second phase of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Norman said the shipment of some vaccine doses from the federal government have been delayed a few days, and below-zero temperatures prompted the Shawnee County health department in northeast Kansas to cancel a vaccination clinic.

The first recorded Kansas case of the United Kingdom coronavirus variant was in Ellis County earlier this month, infecting a student-athlete at Fort Hays State University “who never was particularly very ill,” Norman said. The state health department said Monday that a second case  had been identified in Sedgwick County, home to Wichita, and Norman said the person infected was a “young man” who had traveled out of state.

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