Over 50 cases of the more contagious, mutated coronavirus strain first detected in the UK have been identified across the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In an update Wednesday, the CDC listed 26 cases in California, two in Colorado, 22 in Florida, one in Georgia and an additional case in New York, for a total of 52 cases. On Thursday, Pennsylvania’s Department of Health said that it had a confirmed case of the variant as well.
The CDC noted that the figures are an underestimate, writing: “The cases identified above are based on a sampling of SARS-CoV-2-positive specimens and do not represent the total number of B.1.1.7 lineage cases that may be circulating in the United States and may not match numbers reported by states, territories, tribes and local officials.”
The CDC plans to update the page biweekly as more reported cases of the variant strain arise.
The coronavirus B.1.1.7. variant is said to be more transmissible than prior strains, but it is not thought to be more virulent or resistant to vaccines and treatment. Infectious disease experts weren’t surprised to hear of the variant already circulating in the US, given ongoing travel.
In a recent interview with Newsweek, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said it’s clear the mutated UK strain will start cropping up in other states.
“I think it’s pretty clear that if it’s in places like California and New York and Colorado… that pretty soon it’s going to be in several more states,” Fauci said, later adding: “I don’t think that the UK mutation [variant] has been responsible for the rather substantial surge of cases in the United States because the UK variant is here, but it’s not the dominant strain in the United States. But even with that not being the dominant strain, we still have a very steep curve of cases in our country.”
New York announced it detected its first case of the UK variant in a Saratoga man in his 60s. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the mutated strain a “game-changer,” during a recent press conference, as he railed against federal health officials for not implementing a travel ban or requiring testing for travelers coming from the UK.
Meanwhile, Colorado officials detected both the confirmed coronavirus variant case and a potential second case among members of the Colorado National Guard who were deployed to help Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Simla, where there was a widespread outbreak of COVID-19.
Further, the variant case in Georgia was confirmed in an 18-year-old male with no travel history.
Amid circulation of the more transmissible strain, top health experts have stressed the need for mitigation measures to prevent virus spread and further burdening already overwhelmed health systems.
Fox News medical contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier said the new contagious strain will be more difficult to control, though she noted there is already uncontained virus spread.
“Ultimately it just means that it may be a little bit harder to contain this virus but we already have uncontained spread, which is why we have to continue the mask wearing, physical distancing and encouraging people to get vaccines,” Saphier told “Fox & Friends First” co-hosts.