UK COVID-19 variant detected in Tulane community

Domenic Mesa and Hannah Mayer

Tulane University President Mike Fitts sent out an email to students earlier this afternoon detailing the presence of the U.K. variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the Tulane community.

“Tulane’s testing program has detected evidence of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7) in our community as well, and one case has been confirmed by the CDC,” Fitts said.

The Louisiana Department of Health has confirmed five cases of the U.K. variant in Louisiana. As of Feb. 4, two of the five cases are in the Greater New Orleans area. The first case of the U.K. variant in Louisiana was detected on Jan. 16 in New Orleans. 

“Tulane uses the Thermo-Fisher PCR process, which can distinguish the UK COVID-19 variant – something that many tests used at most hospitals and other locations cannot provide,” Fitts said in a statement to The Hullabaloo.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this variant spreads more quickly and easily than other variants. The CDC also suggests this variant could be more deadly, though more studies are needed to confirm this

“Public health officials have detected the U.K. variant in most states and predict it will become the most common strain of COVID-19 in the United States in the next few weeks,” Fitts said.

Fitts’ email follows numerous student conduct violations that resulted in the suspension of several Greek organizations and a spike in COVID-19 cases on campus. He expressed concerns about the Mardi Gras holiday and stressed the importance of vigilance in upcoming weeks.

“We need everyone to follow our public health protocols at this crucial moment,” Fitts said. 

The Tulane administration has not been able to share any information on the circumstances of the confirmed case.