ORLANDO, Fla. - The CDC is reporting that Florida now has 22 cases of the mutated COVID-19 virus, which experts say is more contagious.
During a time when Florida is seeing a spike in post-holiday COVID-19 cases, the CDC said the new mutated strain is spreading in our state.
The variant emerged in Britain, and Florida’s first case was detected last week.
The CDC said Florida’s 22 cases make up nearly half of the known cases in the United States.
A CDC map shows that Florida had 22 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant that emerged in Britain. It showed other cases in California, which has reported 26 cases, Colorado which has 2, and New York and Georgia have each reported one case.
Other reported cases are in California and Colorado.
"I’m not surprised by that," Dr. Jason Littleton said.
He said he believes the strain has already been spreading since last month.
"But really, it’s really everywhere," Littleton said. "The people who do the COVID PCR test, they’re not testing for that. You need subsequent further analysis to actually detect this new strain. So when people come back with a positive COVID test, they might have that new strain."
Experts said the new strain doesn’t make people sicker but spreads much faster.
"It is more contagious," Littleton said. "People say up to 50% to 70%."
As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, will it be enough to put an end to the pandemic with a mutation in the mix?
"People are concerned if the new COVID-19 vaccine will cover it," Littleton said. "Yeah, I think it will. Most scientists and doctors think it will."
He added that as we learn more about the new strain, it could also mean changes or additional booster shots may be necessary for the vaccine.
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