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A newer coronavirus strain, said to be more contagious, was reported in the Austin-Travis County area by the state health department.

Lab-tested by a private local testing organization, the Texas Department of State Health Services and Austin Public Health report it is the first confirmed case of the UK variant of the virus in Austin. However, officials say it is possible this variant has been in the community longer.


"While it is concerning that there is a confirmed COVID-19 variant in Austin-Travis County, it does not come as a surprise," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard. "It is important to remember that these COVID-19 variants spread the same way, and so it is important to continue the prevention measures we have been using for almost a year. People need to keep wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding gatherings, and washing your hands frequently."

Vaccines already being distributed to the public are expected to be effective against the new strain.

Extensive lab testing is required for APH to determine different strains under the coronavirus umbrella, according to APH.

Just last month, a Harris County man was reported to have contracted the variant, despite no recent history of travel.

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Whether you became a home chef when the pandemic began or have always enjoyed crafting delicious meals, it’s undeniable that no home is complete without a cozy kitchen.

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(Chili Cold Blood Chili Cook Off/Facebook)

Sample some spirits
When: 11:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Where: Desert Door, 211 Darden Hill Rd. Driftwood
What: Attend Desert Door Distillery’s first Explorer Series of 2022. Guests will be able to sample Caliber on its own or in a delicious cocktail.

Eat some chili
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sagebrush, 5500 S. Congress Ave.
What: Enjoy great chili and great music at the 14th Annual Chili Cold Blood Chili Cook-Off. All proceeds will be donated to Health Alliance for Austin Musicians in memory of Nick Curran.

Enjoy some local art
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Neill-Cochran House Museum, 2310 San Gabriel St.
What: The Neil-Cochran House Museum will host a multi-media art exhibition by Austin artist Nell Gottlieb, titled “Land as Persona: An Artist’s Journey.” Gottlieb works in multiple media to reexamine her coming of age, white and female in the Jim Crow South.

Catch some improv comedy
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: GameOn! ATX, 1515 Dungan Ln.
What: ColdTowne ThrowDowne is an improv comedy tournament between troupes that will take place in front of a live studio audience and streamed live to the world on Twitch.

Catch a Johnny Cash-style show
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Georgetown Palace Theatre, 810 S. Austin Ave.
What: Experience music history with a unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and the healing power of home and family set to the tune of the legendary Johnny Cash.