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COVID-19 Variant, Ebola Among Threats On Kentucky's Radar

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AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko
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Kentucky officials are keeping close watch on two potential developing health threats: an outbreak involving a less common COVID-19 variant in a long-term care facility and new cases of Ebola in Africa.

At least 41 people — 27 residents and 14 staff — at an Eastern Kentucky nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19. While genetic sequencing work is ongoing, state Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack says a new coronavirus strain appears to be active.

"It is not one of the common variants, the ones we associate with the United Kingdom, South Africa, or Brazil, but it is a cluster and it looks like it's the same infection in a group of these individuals," Stack reported.

Only 30 percent of those vaccinated at the affected nursing home have shown symptoms compared to more than 80 percent of those unvaccinated, bolstering confidence that the vaccines are working as intended, but five residents have been hospitalized. The state has not yet released the name of the nursing home.

In the meantime, Gov. Andy Beshear says his administration is tracking travelers who recently visited two African countries experiencing Ebola outbreaks. So far the state has identified 11 such individuals.

"When we learn about more, we reach out each and every time," the governor said. "We do not have anyone at high risk thus far."

Those contacted are assessed for exposure risk and informed of symptoms. Quarantine for anyone labeled high risk is 21 days.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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