Florida reports evidence of first UK COVID-19 variant in state
LAKE MARY, Fla. - The Florida Department of Health (DOH) reports it has evidence of the first identified case of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant in Martin County.
Health officials describe the individual a man in his 20s with no history of travel. The DOH is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on this investigation.
The more contagious UK COVID-19 strain first identified in the United Kingdom has already been reported in the United States but this is the first known occurrence in Florida.
The CDC said it appears the new strain is more "rapidly transmissible" than the other known circulating strains of COVID-19. Britain first alerted the World Health Organization about the mutation, saying it accounted for some 60% of London’s new cases.
But the CDC said it has no evidence that the new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 is any more serious or deadly than the other known strains that have infected nearly 78 million people and killed 1.7 million worldwide.
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Researchers said they expected new strains of the virus and took that into account when developing the vaccine that’s now being distributed in the U.S.
"At this time, experts anticipate little to no impact on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine," DOH tweeted late Thursday.
Word of the UK COVID-19 variant's presence in Florida came on the same day that health authorities reported the highest daily jump in COVID-19 cases ever detected in the Sunshine State.
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The DOH reported on Thursday 17,192 new confirmed cases and 133 new deaths, raising the toll to 21,857.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked anxious seniors for patience citing COVID-19 vaccines are still in limited supply. The top state official overseeing the vaccine distribution said the systems set up to sign up for the vaccine in the state "aren't meeting the moment."
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