1.7.21Managing Vols in the New Normal

Lisa Orloff January 7, 2021

The Ready Responders COVID-19 Round Table is meant to serve you, our partner. Your involvement and input are critical to ensuring a successful exchange between partners that will depend on each other when disasters strike. The Roundtable also introduces participants to new resources.

Date and time: Every First Thursday of the Month at 1pm

Purpose: To discuss topics of interest amongst community leaders by leading critical conversations, engaging subject matter experts, and highlighting partner resources to facilitate collaboration.

Past topics have included: COVID-19 Safety, Suicide Identification and Prevention, Financial Stability in Disasters, Technology and more.

We also use the a FREE disaster management portal to gather information and gain familiarity with a beneficial response and exercise tool.

January 7th, 2021

Topic: Managing Volunteers in the New Normal


  • Group Introductions and Update
  • New tools: Calendar and Resources Page
  • MLK Day Mask Support: What are you doing? PPE request
  • Situational Reports from RRN and News:  
    • The virus that causes COVID-19 has mutated, as expected.
    • Two mutations of the virus called variants are worrying health experts.
    • There is currently no evidence the variants will affect the efficacy of the vaccines or cause a more severe illness.
    • It is 40-70% likely that if some is exposed to the new variant, they will become infected, therefore precautions are critical in prevention
  • Topics of Interest?
  • Next Steps

Register in advance for this meeting:

Today's Blog: Coronavirus Variant   

A few weeks ago, news broke that a more transmissible strain of the coronavirus, the B.1.1.7 lineage, has been circling around the United Kingdom.  

The strain is thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the original strain, sending the United Kingdom into a lockdown. The B.1.1.7 lineage has already been detected in several locations in the United States, as well as South Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Trusted Source, the variant replaced other leading strains circulating around the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal provinces in November.  

It’s no surprise that the coronavirus has mutated — that’s what viruses do. Most mutations are useless, but every so often, a mutation will improve a virus’s ability to infect people. 

Given the swift spread of the new variants, experts suspect the new strains contain mutations that make it easier for the virus to bind to our cells. In other words, this strain is more infectious because it’s able to bind more tightly to your nasal passages.

The strain has also been associated with a higher viral load, further suggesting it’s more transmissible than previous strains. One of the mutations involves the spike protein, the piece of the virus that binds to receptors in our cells.  

Although the mutated coronavirus may spread faster from person to person, it does not appear any more likely to cause severe disease or death. Currently, there is no indication that the new strain is more virulent or dangerous in terms of causing more severe COVID-19 disease.  

It is not yet known if persons can be re-infected with COVID simply because the disease does not confirm long-term immunity, so now it’s certainly possible that persons could become re-infected. (Source: Landers District Medical Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, Dr. Karen Landers)  

Still, more studies are needed to understand the mutations and the impact they could have on the pandemic.  

Understanding Mutations and Variants  

It is important to know that all viruses mutate often. Typically, the mutations aren’t functional and have no significant impact on the behavior of the virus. 

As viruses mutate, their chance of survival increases. That is, the more diverse a species is, the more chances it has to survive, said Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virologist at Texas A&M University Texarkana.  

“Mostly the changes are bad for each individual virus, but together, a population of weaker but more diverse viruses has a better chance of survival than the same sized population of identical viruses,” Neuman said.  

Sometimes, those mutations can improve the performance of the virus, as we may be seeing with the new variants detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa.  

But the vaccine induces a broad immune response that will likely be able to recognize and respond to most variants.  

“I think it’s highly unlikely that there’s going to be a variant that the vaccine completely doesn’t touch,” said Dr. Ellen F. Foxman, PhD, an immunologist and Yale Medicine Laboratory Medicine physician.  

All virus variants are prevented the same way  

“SARS-CoV-2 remains preventable, no matter which variant we are talking about,” says Dr. Benjamin Neuman

Wearing a mask that’s tightly sealed around your face, washing your hands, and keeping a physical distance from others, especially in a crowded setting, can decrease your risk of developing COVID-19.  

The bottom line  

Two new variants of the coronavirus have recently been detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa. The variants have also been detected in the United States. 

Due to mutations on the spike protein, the part of the virus that binds to our cells, both strains are thought to be more transmissible than previous strains.  

More research is needed to determine if and how the mutations impact the virus’s behavior.  

Experts continue to stress the importance of wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and washing our hands. These measures will likely protect against all the known variants.  



District Medical Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, Dr. Karen Landers  

World Health Organization: WHO | SARS-CoV-2 Variants  




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