First Known Case Of UK COVID-19 Variant Identified In The US

Katie Ramirez
January 2, 2021

In the span of just two days, three states have now confirmed cases of the COVID-19 variant so-called "Super Strain" that is said to be approximately 70 percent more contagious.

Shortly after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new variant of the coronavirus is circulating somewhere in Southern California, leaders of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said no trace has been found in L.A. County to date.

Fauci said that assuming that if the vaccination campaign "progresses as it should" by July, there will be enough herd immunity by early fall of 2021 to return to a situation with "strong semblance of normality", opening up restaurants, theaters, schools, and sports events.

California is the sickest state in the sickest country in the world to the pandemic, reporting more than 2.2 million cases and almost 25,000 deaths, according to data from the government of California. The patient is now in isolation and will remain there until he is cleared by health officials. He noted that the USA does far less genetic sequencing of virus samples to discover variants than other developed nations, and thus was probably slow to detect this new mutation.

In all, six National Guard personnel were deployed to the facility to assist with staffing, and so far no additional troops had tested positive, local media Colorado Spring Gazette reported, adding that it's possible that the positive Guardsman contracted the variant in the community, not at the nursing home. At a news conference on Wednesday, Polis described the patient infected as a National Guard soldier in his 20s who had been assigned to help deal with a COVID outbreak at a nursing home in Simla, Colorado, on the outskirts of the Denver metropolitan area.

Nasal swab samples taken from the two as part of the Guard's routine coronavirus testing were sent to the state laboratory, which began looking for the variant after its spread was announced in Britain earlier this month, Herlihy said.

The variant, to which scientists in the United Kingdom alerted the public in mid-December, is believed to spread more quickly and has 17 mutations, NPR's Michaeleen Doucleff reported. "This is required for everyone who traveled for leisure or recreation", said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, LA County's Director of Public Health. "The fact that we were able to detect this as quickly as we did truly speaks to the incredible work of the exceptional scientists and staff in our lab", Governor Polis said.

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Several states, including California, Massachusetts and DE, are also analyzing suspicious virus samples for the variant, said Dr. Greg Armstrong, who directs genetic sequencing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We shared our data with CDC", Scientific Director Dr. Emily Travanty said during the news conference.

Britain is seeing infections soar and hospitalizations climb to their highest levels on record.

The UK variant has also been detected in Canada as well as Australia.

The new variant is believed to have originated in southeast England, according to the World Health Organization. But a faster-spreading virus could swamp hospitals with seriously ill patients.

On a livestream with California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, physician & immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci announced that with all the traveling occurring from other countries, cases of the variant found in the USA are "expected", and predicted "You'll be hearing reports from other states and more cases in the state that is already reported".

Colorado public health officials are conducting contact tracing to determine its spread.

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