More cases of new Covid variant found in the U.S., threatening to worsen nation’s outbreak

A person receives a nasal swab COVID-19 check at Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) amid a coronavirus surge in Southern California on December 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

Three states throughout the U.S. have now recognized cases of the new coronavirus pressure in individuals with no journey historical past, an indication that the variant may already be spreading unknowingly amongst Americans.

Florida well being officers on Thursday introduced that they found the state’s first case of Covid-19 with the new, extra infectious virus variant. The man, who lives in the county simply north of West Palm Beach, is in his 20s with no historical past of touring, the Florida Department of Health mentioned in a Twitter put up.

The Florida man is amongst the first handful of individuals to be identified with the new variant, often called B.1.1.7., first recognized in the United Kingdom. California has now recognized at the least 4 cases of the new pressure in San Diego county amongst males with no reported journey histories. The cases have come solely days after Colorado well being officers detected the first couple of cases in individuals who hadn’t traveled.

“I’m not surprised that you have a case, and likely more cases, in California,” White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci advised Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday after he introduced state well being officers had found their first case. “We likely will be seeing reports from other states.”

U.S. well being officers have mentioned the variant’s arrival in the nation is no surprise, although it may make issues worse if it is allowed to unfold unchecked. While proof signifies the new pressure transmits extra simply and rapidly in contrast with earlier variations of the virus, it is not thought to trigger extra extreme illness in people who find themselves contaminated and present vaccines ought to nonetheless work towards it, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officers mentioned on a convention name Wednesday.

Still, the new variant threatens to make issues worse if extra individuals are hospitalized in consequence of its unfold, specialists mentioned. December was the deadliest month of the pandemic in the U.S. as hospitals reached capability and the extremely anticipated vaccine rollout ended up slower than anticipated.

The nation reported greater than 6.three million new infections and greater than 77,500 deaths throughout December, in accordance to knowledge compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Heading into 2021, simply over 125,000 individuals are at present hospitalized with Covid-19 — greater than double the highs set in mid-April final yr, in accordance to knowledge from the COVID Tracking Project, which is run by journalists at The Atlantic. 

Another trigger for concern: The first cases of the new variant have been found in the nation’s most populated states amid a busy vacation journey season, Mercedes Carnethon, vice chair of preventive medication at Northwestern University, advised MSNBC on Friday.

TSA officers mentioned they screened 1.28 million passengers at U.S. airports on Sunday following Christmas, the highest quantity since Covid halted journey in mid-March.

“We can be sure based on the photographs that we all saw from TSA check points over the holidays that millions of people traveled among these destinations,” Carnethon mentioned. “We can be fairly confident this variant is now everywhere.”

Recent proof from Imperial College London additionally exhibits that the new variant seems to have an effect on individuals underneath the age of 20 years greater than older adults. Part of that shift, nonetheless, could possibly be as a result of colleges remained open throughout a interval of lockdown orders, the examine mentioned.

The age distinction could possibly be an issue as a result of youthful individuals are extra probably to be out in the group as important employees, they usually aren’t the first in line to be vaccinated, Carnethon mentioned.

“I think the priority in my opinion, needs to be on reinforcing the basic messages that we know about how to stop the community transmission,” Carnethon mentioned. “As we’re well aware, our strategy for vaccination is starting with shoring up our infrastructure of health care workers. However, this isn’t necessarily the population who is leading to the community spread of the coronavirus.”

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