Cases of the more contagious COVID strain expand to 42 states, with FL posting highest number of cases

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.

Cases of the COVID strain that emerged from the United Kingdom have jumped to 1,277 in 42 states, with Florida posting the most cases — 416 — in the nation, according to the CDC.

The so-called B.1.1.7 variant is more transmissible and potentially more deadly, and health experts have cautioned people to take measures such as masking and double-masking, physical distancing, and quarantining.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been against a statewide mask mandate. And the governor and the Florida Department of Health have done little to let the public know about mutated COVID strains.

Vaccines will become very important as the United Kingdom strain and the South Africa and Brazil strains are spreading throughout the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted new data Tuesday evening, showing that 41 states and Washington, D.C. now have the United Kingdom cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in their communities.

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

Other states with the largest number of United Kingdom variant cases are California (186); New York (70); Colorado and Michigan (67) and Texas (60), according to the CDC data.

You can see the variant map here, at the CDC.

The South Africa strain called B.1.351 is now in 10 states: California, Texas, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and South Carolina.

The Brazil strained called P.1. is in Minnesota and Oklahoma.

Whether the vaccines will work for all or some of the mutated COVID strains is being studied closely.

The CDC has made clear that the variants “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).”

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.