San Antonio officials now monitoring for new COVID-19 variant from India

Health official says contact tracing continues to be strong tool

SAN ANTONIO – City of San Antonio health officials are keeping a close eye on a new COVID-19 variant. The coronavirus variant from India was recently discovered in California.

“I think somewhere it said it’s a double variant. It just means that there was changes and multiple portions of the genetic makeup, which happens all the time with viruses,” said Rita Espinoza, chief of epidemiology at the City of San Antonio.

Here at home, no case of the new double variant, but people are monitoring for any changes.

“As far as the genotyping and the sequencing that’s being done randomly on some samples that’s how we would identify those individuals as that testing and surveillance is occurring on those specimens to do the sequencing, to see the genetic makeup of the virus, to see if it’s mutated,” Espinoza said.

Espinoza said contact tracing continues to be one of the strongest tools in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

San Antonio resident Belinda Mainor is one of about 175 contact tracers in the city.

“It’s a roller coaster, and it seems like every time there’s a little holiday spring break or Easter now we’re expecting more cases, because of the gathering,” said Belinda Mainor, UTHealth Houston School of Public Health in San Antonio.

Mainor said while there are more people getting vaccinated, many are letting their guard down.

“They’re under the assumption that I’ve had it or I’ve received both of my vaccines, I’m good. I’m clear. And you’re not. So you still have to follow guidelines,” Mainor said.

Espinoza said vaccines don’t necessarily prevent all COVID cases, but it will keep people out of the hospital.

She confirmed two people did get COVID after they were fully vaccinated, but none of those cases were severe.

Vaccinations will continue at the Alamodome. Starting Tuesday afternoon, people 75 and older can get a vaccine without an appointment.


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