FL now has 125 cases of the more transmissible COVID strain, more than any other state

Novel coronavirus SARS CoV2, which causes COVID-19. Mutations of the virus have been spreading across the country. Microphotography by National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Friday evening reported 434 cases nationwide of the more transmissible COVID-19 strain that is potentially more lethal — up from 315 earlier this week. Florida’s cases have jumped to 125 — more than any state in the nation.

The variant called B.1.1.7, which emerged from the United Kingdom, has  continued to spread in the United States, with at least 1 case in each of the 30 states, according to the CDC. The biggest jump in cases are in Florida, California and New York.

(The cases identified are based on a sampling of specimens and do not represent the total number of B.1.1.7 cases across the nation, according to the CDC.)

The variant is of concern because it is considered more transmissible and potentially more lethal.

Cases are expected to continue to climb, as federal health officials earlier warned of the new COVID-19 variant potentially becoming the dominant strain by March.

The first variant case in Florida was identified on Dec. 31, 2020, involving a man in his 20s in Martin County, north of Palm Beach County. As of Thursday, the United Kingdom variant is in 19 counties in Florida, with the highest number of cases in Broward County, with 28, followed by Miami-Dade with 23.

The CDC has also started to track two other variants that have come into the United States: B.1.351, from South Africa, and P.1, from Brazil.

The CDC reported two cases of the South Africa strain in South Carolina and one case of the Brazil strain in Minnesota.

The CDC provided this information about the new strains:

“The emerging variants CDC is closely monitoring have mutations in the virus genome that alter the characteristics and cause the virus to act differently in ways that are significant to public health (e.g., causes more severe disease, spreads more easily between humans, requires different treatments, changes the effectiveness of current vaccines). It’s important to understand that genetic mutations are expected, and some variants can spread and become predominant while others subside.”

You can look at the CDC’s variant map here.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.