City of Amarillo health officials talk COVID-19 variants

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – During this week’s the City of Amarillo’s COVID-19 briefing, public health officials addressed the multiple COVID-19 variants and the possibility of them in our area.

These variants have mutations in the virus genome that alter the characteristics and cause the COVID-19 virus to act differently in ways that are significant to public health, this according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Dr. Michael Lamanteer, chief medical officer for BSA said they have had only two patients that were suspected of having a COVID-19 variant.

“The first concern did not pan out to be a variant and the second case is pending. This is not a shock. This is not a surprise. Dr. Weis mentioned the number of cases that have been documented in Texas. The variants are probably already here,” said Dr. Lamanteer

Dr. Brian Weis, chief medical officer at Northwest Texas Hospital said they don’t have any confirmed variants at Northwest, but there are still some cases pending.

Amarillo Public Health Authority Dr. Scott Milton said we should assume the variants have been here.

“I think it’s very likely we’ve had variants here for a while. I’m just grateful that we’ve been able to vaccinate as people as we have because I think that’s helped us,” said Dr. Weis.

Dr. Weis said it’s only a matter of time before the variants become more significant in the community.

“We are being prepared to face what may be some form of surge, not nearly as dramatic as the two we have seen so far from these variants that are a little more infectious and unfortunately a little more dangerous,” said Dr. Weis.

Dr. Lamanteer said these variants won’t really matter for people who are vaccinated, but it certainly might matter for people who are not vaccinated.

According to Dr. Lamanteer and Dr. Weis, COVID-19 cases thought to be variants–have to be tested in a special lab, as regarded by the state.

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