WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — All five COVID-19 variants that are being tracked by federal health officials have surfaced in Palm Beach County.
County health director Dr. Alina Alonso delivered the news on Tuesday, saying she's worried about the long-term impacts of the variants.
"That's concerning, not because it's more lethal, but because it's more contagious," Alonso told county commissioners. "That is concerning because if that becomes the dominant virus, then the spread is gonna be so much quicker."
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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida leads the nation with 3,568 confirmed variant cases, up from 1,070 cases on March 22.
In South Florida, Broward County has an imposing 944 variant cases, followed by Miami-Dade County with 469 and Palm Beach County with 313.
The five variants being tracked by the CDC are from the U.K., Brazil/Japan, South Africa, and a pair of California variants that have mutated in the U.S.
In Palm Beach County, 287 of the county's 313 variant cases are from the U.K. strain, which Alonso fears could become the dominant virus over time and will spread in the community much more aggressively.
"The problem is the spread," Alonso said. "Where you would have a young person go to the bar and have two or three friends spread the virus to two or three friends, now it's spreading to five, six, 10 individuals. As many as 30."
The CDC said current research suggests the COVID-19 vaccines will offer you antibody protection against all variants.
Alonso said the vaccines were developed in a specific way to keep up with mutations of the virus.
"The bottom line for the public is that the vaccine still protects you, and it's very important to get vaccinated as soon as possible so that we can stop the spread of these variants," Alonso said. "We do not want the variants to take over and become the predominant virus."
For more information from the CDC about the COVID-19 variants, click here.
IN-DEPTH COVERAGE: WPTV shows where to get COVID-19 vaccine
All Floridians ages 18 and older, as well as 16 and 17-year-olds receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, can now get their shots.
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, 465,615 people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 in Palm Beach County. 76% of those patients are 65 and older, according to health officials.
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