As in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people (including healthcare professionals) may be taking false comfort in the fact that the multiple variants of the virus started cropping up “somewhere else.” Also as we saw a year ago, however, that kind of thinking is no protection. Early, yet-to-be published data show that the variant first detected in the United Kingdom is becoming the dominant strain in several countries—and that its occurrence is doubling every 10 days in the U.S. Worse, despite early reports that clinical outcomes with the variants might not be worse than they’ve been with the original COVID-19 infection, the new data set from the genomics company Helix indicates that it may increase risk for death by 30%. It is essential that urgent care providers continue to test and encourage vaccination among workers and patients, while also maintain good social distancing practices and masking requirements on site.

Be Aware: The UK COVID-19 Variant Is Becoming the Dominant U.S. Strain—Fast
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