More contagious COVID mutation spreads to 44 states; FL has the most cases of the strain nationwide

Novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, is shown here in orange and yellow. COVID mutations are now spreading through the United States. Microphotography by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

The COVID mutation that emerged in the United Kingdom has now spread to 44 states in the country, with Florida posting 433 cases of the strain that is more transmissible and potentially more deadly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defined the 44 figure as 42 states, Washington, D.C and Puerto Rico.

Florida ranks No. 1 in cases followed by Michigan, with 210 cases, and California, 195. You can see the CDC variant map here.

Nationwide, the CDC on Sunday totaled 1,661 cases of the U.K. variant called B.1.1.7. (Keep in mind that cases identified are based on a sampling of specimens and do not represent total numbers of cases that may be circulating in the United States.)

The CDC is also tracking two other stains, the South Africa strain called B.1.351, and the Brazil strain labeled P.1.

Florida already has one case of the Brazil strain, according to the CDC. Only three other states have the P.1: Minnesota, Maryland and Oklahoma.

The 10 states that have the South Africa strain are: Maryland, Virginia, California, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Texas, Illinois, Connecticut, North Carolina and Washington, D.C.

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

And given the mutations, 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.

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.