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CDPHE testing for India variant of the coronavirus

Mesa County is the site of the first reported cases of the variant in the State of Colorado
Testing for the variant occurred at the 8/9 School in Fruita, Colo.
Testing for the variant occurred at the 8/9 School in Fruita, Colo.(KKCO/KJCT)
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 10:34 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment organized a drive-through COVID-19 testing site at the 8/9 School in Fruita on Wednesday. The department is screening for the India variant of the coronavirus.

According to Mesa County Public Health, Mesa County is an area of interest for the CDPHE. The county is the site of the first reported cases of the B.1.617.2, or India, variant of the coronoavirus. CDPHE is trying to learn more about how the India variant came to Mesa County before any other in the state.

MCPH has linked a number of COVID-19 cases, including severe ones, to District 51 schools. According to the department, variant cases of the coronavirus have also appeared in connection to district schools. The district explained that confirmed COVID-19 cases at schools are linked to cases in the community.

According to Emily Shockley, District 51 Public Information Officer, “Schools really are a reflection of the community at large. So if you find a variant in the community, you’ll find a variant in the school. And if you find a variant in the school, you’ll find it in the community... the end of school next Friday will not be the end of COVID-19 or variants at all... what we’re trying to do for our part is to keep going these next, last seven days of school and follow the protocols we’ve been following.”

MCPH believes that increased numbers of outbreaks at schools and child-care centers are connected to variants of the virus.

Jeff Kuhr, Ph.D., Executive Director of MCPH, explained that, “About three weeks ago we had maybe two outbreaks listed on our website and now we’re up to thirteen... we’re... getting a lot more infection out there.... things seem to be moving more quickly... I’m gonna attribute that to the variant.”

As testing and other efforts continue, public health departments may get closer to figuring out just how the India variant of the coronavirus got to Mesa County.

MCPH asks those discouraged by mistrust in government and public health agencies to learn more about the vaccine and get their shots when they are ready.

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