Nearly half of FL’s counties have the more contagious COVID strain embedded in their communities

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

The United Kingdom COVID strain called B.1.1.7 — which is more contagious and potentially more deadly than the original virus — is now in nearly half of  Florida’s 67 counties.

The Florida Department of Health on Friday finally disclosed new information about which counties have the U.K variant. That mutation has been spreading across the United States and mostly in Florida.

Broward County has the most cases, 115, followed by Miami-Dade County, with 68 cases of the U.K. strain, as of Thursday, Feb. 18. Palm Beach County has 49 cases, while Hillsborough County has 38 and Pinellas, 32.

The Florida Phoenix provided the full list of counties involved — 32 — in this story, so residents can see what’s going on in their counties. (see below.)

Florida continues to lead the nation in cases of that U.K. strain, with 433 total.

Overall, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,523 cases of the United Kingdom variant in 42 states — 41 states and Washington, D.C.

Federal health officials are still investigating to see if vaccines will provide protection for the United Kingdom strain as well as two other strains that the CDC is tracking.

After weeks of silence on the issue about the more troubling COVID-19 mutations, the state health department emailed the Florida Phoenix on Friday with case information, following multiple public records requests. However, the department has yet to provide information on the gender and ages or age ranges of the people who were infected by B.1.1.7 variant.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has been largely mum as well, though he’s answered questions about the more contagious strains a few times when asked by the media.

Meanwhile, the Brazil mutation, called P.1, is now in Florida, as previously reported by the Phoenix. The state health department did not say where that one case of the Brazil strain is located.

Because of the mutations, health experts have cautioned people to take measures such as masking and double-masking, physical distancing, and quarantining. DeSantis has been against a statewide mask mandate.

Below is a breakdown of the 433 cases of the United Kingdom’s B.1.1.7 strain by county, as of Thursday, February 18: 

 

Broward

115

Dade

68

Palm Beach

49

Hillsborough

38

Pinellas

32

Pasco

19

Orange

14

Seminole

11

Marion

9

Osceola

9

Brevard

9

St. Lucie

6

Hernando

6

Lake

5

Collier

5

Alachua

5

Lee

4

Polk

4

Volusia

4

Suwannee

3

Leon

3

Martin

2

Charlotte

2

Flagler

2

Hendry

2

Okaloosa

1

Citrus

1

Levy

1

Sumter

1

Escambia

1

Duval

1

Indian River

1

 

Keep in mind that the cases identified by the CDC are based on a sampling and do not represent the total number of B.1.1.7, B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil) lineage cases that may be circulating in the United States.)