Troubling new COVID mutation is now in 2/3 of states; FL has more variant cases than any other state

Novel coronavirus SARS CoV2, which causes COVID-19. The virus is now creating mutations that are spreading in the United States and elsewhere. Credit: National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The new COVID strain that emerged in the United Kingdom is now showing up in two two thirds of the states across the country, with Florida at the top of the list of cases considered potentially more lethal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday reported 186 cases of the variant called B.1.1.7 in Florida  — more than any other state and up from 147 cases on Sunday.

Across the country, the total number of cases also shot up, from 467 on Sunday to 541 on Tuesday. (The CDC reports the data on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.)

The variant is of concern because it is considered more transmissible and potentially more lethal. That means people should take measures, such as double masking, to avoid getting the virus.

State officials can also pursue measures, such as a statewide mask mandate, though Gov. Ron DeSantis has been against such a requirement.

The variant 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.

As it stands now, 33 states have at least one case of the United Kingdom variant.

The CDC is now tracking two other variants that have come into the United States: B.1.351, from South Africa, and P.1, from Brazil.

The CDC has reported three cases of the South Africa strain — two in South Carolina and one case in Maryland. The CDC has reported two cases of the Brazil strain in Minnesota, up from one case on Sunday.

(The cases identified are based on a sampling of specimens and do not represent the total number of B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 cases that may be circulating in the United States, according to the CDC.)

The CDC also states:

“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.”

Here’s the list Tuesday from the CDC for the B.1.1.7 United Kingdom cases:

StateB.1.1.7 Variant
FL186
CA127
NY42
MI22
GA18
MN16
CO13
IL12
PA10
CT8
MD8
NJ8
TX8
IN7
LA5
MA5
NC5
WA5
WY5
AL3
AZ3
DE3
IA3
OR3
UT3
KY2
NM2
NV2
TN2
VA2
AK1
SC1
WI1

 

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.