A faster-spreading COVID-19 variant is most likely making the rounds in Lexington, according to local health officials, but its impact isn't yet clear.
The B.1.1.7. strain, first detected in the United Kingdom, is now the dominant form of COVID-19 in the country — that's coming from the head of the Centers for Disease Control this week. Fayette Health department spokesman Kevin Hall says the more easily spread variant has been identified in Lexington, but beyond that, officials are relying on limited data.
"We don't know how widespread the variant is, but it probably is circulating widely. We just don't have a way to track that because not everybody gets checked for that variant," he told city leaders Thursday.
Currently, the state knows of 111 cases of the U.K. variant in the commonwealth. That news comes as COVID-19 cases are hitting a plateau in the city and across the state. With the numbers lower than in January, Hall said complacency is a problem.
"We have too many people who think that they can put their guard down, that they can go back to living life exactly like it was pre-pandemic, and we have too many people thinking that, 'Well, everyone else has got the vaccine, I don't need it,'" the health department official explained. "We still need more people to get the vaccine."
There are now nearly 50 locations offering COVID-19 vaccines in some capacity in Lexington. Next on the city's to-do list: outreach to young people and those who are homebound or face other barriers to getting the shot.