By Aimee Hancock
TROY — The Miami County Public Health Department (MCPH) received notice this week from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that two positive COVID-19 samples taken last month in Miami County were confirmed to be that of a COVID-19 variant, according to Emergency Management Agency Director Joel Smith.
During his weekly COVID-19 update at the Thursday meeting of Miami County Commissioners, Smith said the variant found in these samples is that which has recently been detected in Michigan.
Known as B.1.1.7, this variant was first detected in the state up north in January of this year, and is said to have emerged in the United Kingdom. Cases of this variant have now been reported in every state to varying degrees.
According to the CDC, viruses constantly change through mutation and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time, sometimes emerging and disappearing, and sometimes emerging and persisting. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the U.S. and globally during the pandemic.
These variants, including the B.1.1.7 variant, have mutations in the virus genome that alter the characteristics and cause the virus to act differently in ways that are significant to public health, including by causing more severe disease, spreading more easily between humans, requiring different treatments, and changing the effectiveness of current vaccines, the CDC states.
According to Smith, the samples in Miami County that were found to harbor this variant was taken last month and corresponded with a slight spike in overall COVID-19 cases within the county. Smith said the CDC randomly tests positive samples for variants.
Smith noted there has been one “breakthrough” case reported in Miami County. A breakthrough case is when a person has been vaccinated but still develops COVID-19. Smith said this is “not unexpected” given that the vaccine has been documented to be around 95 percent effective.
Smith also shared that after examining the positive cases reported in March, MCPH found the highest case count was within the 20 to 30-year-old age group. Smith noted this corresponds with the fact that, within Miami County, this age group is statistically less likely to get vaccinated.
Also during Thursday’s commission meeting:
• Commissioners amended a resolution and accepted a quote from Lostcreek Lawn and Fence Company Inc., of Casstown, authorizing lawn care services for the 2021 and 2022 mowing seasons for the Miami County Sanitary Engineering Department/Miami County Transfer Station at a coast not to exceed $7,000 annually, as well as lawn care services at the eight Miami County Sewage Pumping Stations at a cost not to exceed $4,955 annually.
• Commissioners accepted a proposal from Dixon Engineering Inc., of Medina, as requested by the Sanitary Engineering Department, and authorized the services of said firm for inspections of the Brandt Water Tower painting and upgrades project due to the specialized scope of the work. NACE Level 1 inspector will be provided for observation and inspection of the rehabilitation and re-coating work that will be performed on the 200,000-gallon elevated pedestal water tank located on First Street in Bethel Township. Total cost not to exceed $35,280.
• Commissioners accepted a quote from Bissett & Company Inc., of Dayton, and authorized said company to paint nine metal window frames and 19 metal doors, including frames, in the incarceration facility. Cost not to exceed $5,400.
• Commissioners authorized the purchase of one 2022 Chevy Traverse from Tim Lally Chevrolet, of Warrensville Heights, as requested by the county engineer, at a total cost not to exceed $27,235.
• Commissioners accepted the resignation of Eric Dukes as child support case manager for the Department of Job & Family Services, effective immediately, and authorized the employee requisition of this open position. Pay range is $15.52 to $23.96 depending on qualifications.
• Commissioners held an executive session to discuss personnel/payroll with no action taken.