COVID mutations spreading widely; some 13,000 variant cases nationwide and highest numbers in FL

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.

Contagious COVID-19 variants continue to spread across the country, with Florida leading the nation in cases as residents hurry to get vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday reported 12,505 cases of the variant that emerged from the United Kingdom, covering 49 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico; 323 cases from the South Africa strain and 224 cases from the Brazil variant.

(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.)

Florida has the highest number of United Kingdom cases in the nation, 2,351. Other states with those high numbers are Michigan, Colorado, California, Massachusetts and Maryland.

The variants are more contagious than the original virus and are of concern because of potential changes in the effectiveness of current vaccines, according to the CDC.

Overall, at least 16 states, including Florida, have all three of the variants in their communities, according to the variant data. The South Africa strain is in 30 states and Washington, D.C., and the Brazil strain is in 22 states.

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.