The coronavirus mutation first identified in the United Kingdom has become the predominant COVID strain in the United States, with the variant detected in all 50 states, according to federal health officials. And Florida has the most United Kingdom variant cases in the nation.
The U.K. variant, also known as B.1.1.7, has caused 20,915 infections nationwide, including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is considered more contagious and potentially more fatal.
Florida has 3,510 of the U.K. variant cases, followed by Michigan, 2,262 cases; Minnesota, 1,573; Massachusetts, 1,100; Colorado, 1,041; Georgia, 1,022; and California, 1,001.
(The cases identified are a sampling of specimens and do not represent the total number variant cases that may be circulating in the United States, according to the CDC. The CDC also is tracking two California variants, but they are listed not on the variant map that includes the three variants.)
While Florida has posted the highest number of U.K. variant cases in the nation, Gov. Ron DeSantis has refused to issue a statewide face mask mandate, and has focused predominantly on vaccines.
The CDC is also tracking two other key variants: 453 cases of the South Africa variant, known as B.1.351, in 35 states and Washington, D.C. and 497 cases of the Brazil strain, also called P.1, in 30 states and Washington, D.C.
Florida has 126 Brazil cases — also more than any state in the nation — and 27 South Africa cases, ranking Florida 6th in the states in that variant, according to the CDC data.
Overall, 23 states, including Florida, and Washington D.C, have all three of the variant cases — close to half of the states in the nation. That means administering vaccines to residents across the nation has been a top priority to fight the global pandemic as variants spread.
Meanwhile, federal health officials classify all three variants as “variants of concern” because they pose a greater risk of severe disease, “increased hospitalizations or deaths” and reduced vaccine effectiveness.
As of Monday, the CDC will no longer update the COVID-19 variant map but has a new platform called the “COVID Data Tracker” showing data on “the prevalence of variants” spreading across the nation.