- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 6, 2021

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri’s health department on Tuesday announced it identified the first case of a new virus variant in the state.

Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services announced a Jackson County resident tested positive for a COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa.

The agency said a commercial lab identified the variant during genome sequencing.

Health department Director Dr. Randall Williams in a statement urged people to continue taking preventative measures, such as wearing a mask and social distancing, as new variants spread to Missouri.

“We also continue to ask that individuals consider getting vaccinated when they are able,” Williams said. “The vaccines that are currently available in the United States appear to be effective against these variant viruses.”

Missouri found cases of another variant, this one first identified in the U.K., back in February. The agency said there are at least 35 active cases of that faster-spreading variant in the state.

Meanwhile, the University of Missouri is planning to have full-capacity, in-person classes and activities on the Columbia campus for the fall semester beginning in August, university officials announced Tuesday.

University President Mun Choi said in a news release that school officials will stay in touch with local health officials as they plan for football, concerts and classes. The university had 13 active student cases as of Tuesday, Choi said.

Some faculty and staff are already working on campus, and all are expected to be back by May 17 to prepare for the full-capacity return this fall.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Missouri has held steady over the past 14 days at about 590. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 28.5% of the population had received at least one dose of vaccine as of Monday and 16.5% had been fully vaccinated.


This story was first published on April 6, 2021. It was updated on April 7, 2021, to correct that the health department identified the first case of a new virus variant in the state, not a new vaccine variant.

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