The South Dakota Department of Health confirmed Thursday that additional variants of the COVID-19 virus had been detected in the state. This includes one case of the B.1.351 ( or the “South African variant”) and five cases of B.1.429 (or the “California variant”).
This comes just two weeks after the first variant – the B.1.1.7 (or the “U.K. variant”) of COVID-19 was initially detected in the state, which is now at fourteen cases.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton said that the new variants are something that they have been tracking and preparing for. He said that people need to continue mitigation practices like washing hands, social distancing, and staying home when sick to help slow transmission rates.
The state said that the “South African” and “U.K.” variants have both been identified in Brookings County. The “U.K.” variant has also been found in Lyman, Minnehaha and Pennington counties. The “California” variant has been identified in Roberts County.
Available COVID-19 vaccines have shown some reduced effectiveness against these variants but are safe and offer good protection. The State Department of Health strongly encourages state residents to choose getting vaccinated at their earliest convenience. The vaccination priority group 1-E was opened statewide earlier this week.