SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — For more than a year, the city of Altamonte Springs has been testing its sewer water in an effort to predict community spread of COVID-19.
Officials say they have detected the delta variant for weeks but now they believe they have found a new variant of the virus called “Delta Plus.”
Altamonte Springs city manager Frank Martz says they confirmed the new variant last week.
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“We found it on Monday and then we confirmed that on Thursday. The delta plus variant and the delta variant is the most dominant variant in Central Florida right now,” he said.
Dr. Michael Teng with USF Health says while delta plus sounds new it is really just an extra mutation of the delta variant that is susceptible to the same neutralizing antibodies.
“This particular mutation has come up in several variants before and is in the beta and gamma variants as well, so the mutation itself is not new to us, it just has come into the delta variant as well,” Teng said.
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Teng says at this point there haven’t been enough cases to definitively say one way or another if the vaccines protect us from delta plus but the belief is that they will.
“We do know other variants that have had this mutation in it have been susceptible to the vaccine as well, so I would guess that it is not going to have a major effect on vaccine effectiveness,” he said.
Health officials say while delta plus may eventually be a cause of concern, the biggest concern is the highly infectious delta variant.
Martz says the concern is how these variants keep spreading and how it could eventually impact essential services.
READ: Seminole County schools to require face masks for students unless parents opt out
“If we have police officers, sewer treatment plant workers or garbage collectors who become infected and require quarantine, that could deeply impact our ability to keep our community safe,” Martz said.
Right now officials are focused on cutting the transmission rate of the virus using a layered approach of social distancing, mask use and getting the vaccine.
That’s why the county is setting up vaccine pods at several high schools to coincide with the start of school Tuesday.
A list of the locations and times can be found here.
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