Mid-South will see new strain of COVID-19 soon, doctors say

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A scary, dangerous new strain of COVID-19 was detected in New York state on Monday evening.

It’s also been found in Florida, Colorado, and California.

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The new strain is spreading so quickly, medical experts in Tennessee believe we will have our first case soon.

Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Steve Threlkeld said there is a 100 percent chance the new strain will get detected in the Mid-South if it isn’t here already.

“More contagious things tend to spread more until they take over,” said Dr. Threlkeld. “Bigger, stronger things tend to be more prominent in the population as time goes on.”

Dr. Threlkeld works at Baptist Hospital. He said we could see the new COVID-19 strain in the Mid-South very soon.

It’s called B.1.1.7 which was originally detected in the U.K. but has now spread to states like New York, Florida, Colorado, and California.

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“We have 10 times at least the number of cases of COVID-19 as Great Britain does so we have 10 times the opportunity for mutations to occur,” said Dr. Threlkeld.

Dr. Threlkeld said if the new strain is detected in the Mid-South it will spread quickly and could overwhelm hospitals.

Right now Mid-South ICU beds are at 95 percent capacity and regular beds are at 88 percent capacity.

“It will slowly become the largest variant it seems to infect people, maybe more of the younger populations, we are seeing younger people in great Britain get this and that would be typical to see the same thing here,” said Dr. Threlkeld.

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Dr. Threlkeld said one positive is the vaccine should protect people from the new strain and the older one.

He emphasizes people should get the vaccine as soon as they possibly can.

“It’s not to be toyed with, we shouldn’t play around and get the vaccines out as quickly as we can and try to prevent unnecessary cases from happening,” said Dr. Threlkeld.

Dr. Threlkeld said in the future it’s possible for the U.S. to detect its own strain of the virus because we have a large population and that makes mutations more likely.

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