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The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported its first Missouri resident with the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the United Kingdom in September 2020 and began being reported in the United States in December. The B.1.1.7 variant was identified in a sample from an adult living in Marion County.

As of Feb. 4, 611 cases of the variant had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 33 states reporting cases so far.

“We are working closely with the local public health agency to ensure appropriate measures are being taken regarding contact tracing and isolation and quarantine protocols,” said Randall Williams, director of DHSS.

According to the CDC, this variant can spread more quickly, but early reports found no evidence that this variant has any impact on the severity of disease or vaccine efficacy.

DHSS continues to advise individuals to wear a mask, practice good handwashing and physical distancing and to stay home if not feeling well. If any symptoms are experienced or COVID-19 exposure is suspected, DHSS encourages individuals to seek testing.

Although in limited supply, the COVID-19 vaccine is now available to health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, emergency personnel and those with specific high-risk health conditions or who are age 65 and over. Learn more at

If the new COVID strain is found in Clay County, details on what it means for residents will be published in print and online editions of the Courier-Tribune as well as in the Courier-Tribune NOW app.