About two months ago, federal officials warned of a new, more transmissible COVID-19 variant potentially becoming the dominant source of infection in the nation by March.
Now that it’s March, the COVID-19 variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom is sweeping the nation, with the U.K variant in 46 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
Florida has the most U.K. variant cases of all — 642.
In fact, only four states in the nation do not have the U.K. variant called B.1.1.7: Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Vermont, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is tracking three variants.
The other two variants are South Africa, called B.1.351, and the Brazil variant known as P.1. Those two variants also are on the rise.
The South Africa strain is now in 16 states and Washington, D.C.; the Brazil variant is now in 7 states, according to the CDC.
According to health officials, COVID-19 strains spread more easily than the original coronavirus, which could lead to a surge in cases, overwhelm the health care system and lead to more deaths.
Overall, as of Thursday, the CDC reported 2,672 cases of the U.K. variant in states across the nation; 68 cases of the South Africa strain, and 13 cases of the Brazil variant.
In fact, Florida and Maryland are the only two states that have all three of the variants. Florida is in the worst position, because it has far more cases than Maryland.
Other states with a high number of U.K. variant cases include Michigan, 421; California, 250; Georgia, 155 and New York, 136.
Florida also has the most P.1 (Brazil) cases, with five.
The CDC says that cases are based on a sampling of specimens and do not represent the total number of variant cases that could be circulating in the United States.
Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis has refused to issue a statewide face mask mandate, even as health experts have raised concerns over whether current COVID-19 vaccines will protect against against all, some or none of the variants.
You can see more about the variants on the CDC website.