More effort needed to track COVID-19 variants, health leaders say

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The troublesome South African variant of COVID-19 has made its way to Orange County.

It’s one of the most contagious forms of the virus, and is tough for the vaccine to handle.

But some health leaders said they’re worried that we’re not doing enough to track variants in our communities.

READ: Florida reports 3,400 new COVID-19 cases, 36 virus-related deaths

Efforts to find variants of COVID-19 are pretty miniscule when you consider how large of an impact they could make.

“Can more be done? Absolutely. But it’s just that the volume right now is overwhelming and continues to be overwhelming for the entire country,” Orange County Health officer Dr. Raul Pino said.

In partnership with private labs, the CDC is sequencing about 6,000 samples of positive COVID-19 tests each week.

READ: Here’s where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in your county

That means fewer than half of 1% of Florida’s cases are being investigated.

AdventHealth just started working with a lab to investigate about 1,000 cases in Central Florida but does not have the results yet.

The City of Altamonte Springs is also currently analyzing Orange County sewage water.

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Pino said the primary focus must be on vaccines right now.

“Even if you have 300 variants outside, If you are protecting yourself, it will matter a little,” Pino said. “And that’s our that’s why we are encouraging people about getting vaccinated and get vaccinated fast.”

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.