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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Hamilton County Must 'Continue With Our Vigilance' Against UK COVID Variant

Hamilton County Commission (screenshot from Feb. 24, 2021 COVID-19 briefing)

Earlier this week, it was confirmed that the B.1.1.7 COVID variant, commonly known as the UK variant due to first being discovered in the United Kingdom, has shown up in Hamilton County. So far, only 11 cases of the variant have been found in Ohio.

Regarding the county's only case, Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said the infected person was placed in isolation among discovery but has since been released after no longer exhibiting symptoms.

He also said reports have shown that the vaccine will be effective against the variant. Dr. Jennifer Forester with UC Health said until most of the public is vaccinated, people should continue following guidelines to fight against COVID spread.

"Continuing with our vigilance not only protects ourselves and each other from potentially serious disease, but really actually stops variants in their tracks," Forester said.

Last month, the variant was discovered in Northern Kentucky. Hamilton County is currently dealing with roughly 5,000 active COVID cases.

In the past week, 31 new deaths from COVID-19 were reported in Hamilton County. Commissioner Denise Driehaus said deaths are a lagging indicator, but one indicator of deaths are how many people are on respirators in the region's hospitals.

"Today, there are 68," Driehaus said. "A week ago, there were 90."

More than 1,000 new COVID cases were also confirmed. More than 72,000 people in Hamilton County have been infected with COVID-19 during the pandemic.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.