6 cases of COVID-19 UK variant identified in Bexar County, Metro Health says

Community Labs sent samples to Austin to test for UK variant

SAN ANTONIO – Metro Health confirms there are now six cases of the COVID-19 UK variant identified in Bexar County.

The variant was first identified in San Antonio in February when two cases were reported.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the B.1.1.7 variant was first identified in the US in December 2020 and was initially detected in the UK. It’s now been reported in all 50 states in the U.S.

Community Labs is a nonprofit that does COVID-19 testing in San Antonio. Last week, Community Labs President Sal Webber said they sent out a handful of COVID-19 tests to the Department of Health in Austin to determine if they are the UK variant.

“We have sent those off for sequencing to confirm that it actually is the UK variant. But we at this point, based on the signature we saw on our tests, we do believe we’ve seen the UK variant,” Webber said.

Webber said the samples in question were from the general public collection and not from schools.

“We know our tests can track all of the original variants. And then we’ve recently heard the UK variant, the Brazilian variant and the South African variant are all covered with our test as well,” Webber said.

Webber said he is concerned about a possible fourth COVID-19 surge.

“Without masks, people maybe are kind of starting to let their guard down, and we’re seeing more infections,” Webber said.

Webber said this week they already saw a significant increase in COVID cases at one local school district.

“We saw one particular school district that the week before they had 12 positives, and then this week they had 59,” Webber said.

The nonprofit is testing for COVID-19 at about 230 school campuses on a weekly basis across Bexar County.

Webber said the results of those tests that were sent to Austin last week have not come back yet.

Community labs provides several free COVID-19 testing locations.

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Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.