Evidence of UK Virus Strain Found in Florida

By ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON

Healthcare workers work at a walk-up COVID-19 testing site during the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, July 17, 2020, in Miami Beach, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI (AP) — Florida health authorities announced last week that the more contagious coronavirus strain first seen in England was detected in the state from a man with no recent travel history.

The case, disclosed in a Florida Health Department statement tweeted on its HealthyFla site, comes after reports in recent days of multiple individual cases of the United Kingdom strain of COVID-19 discovered in Colorado and California.

Florida’s health statement said the new virus variant was detected in a man in his 20s in Martin County, which abuts the Atlantic Coast above densely populated South Florida. It said its experts were working with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control on investigating the case. The announcement was made on Thursday, December 31, 2020.

The health department did not give further details, such as releasing the man’s medical condition or how the strain was detected.

Last week Wednesday, California became the second state to confirm a case of the new virus strain. The announcement came 24 hours after the first reported U.S. variant infection, which emerged in Colorado — in a Colorado National Guardsman who had been sent to help out at a nursing home struggling with an outbreak.

Scientists in the U.K. believe the variant is more contagious than previously identified strains. The cases have triggered questions about how the version circulating in England arrived in the U.S. and whether it is too late to stop it now, with top experts saying it is probably already spreading elsewhere in the United States.

The Florida Health Department also tweeted late Thursday that experts anticipate little to no impact on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccinations being rolled out in a state grappling with overwhelming demand for the vaccines from its large senior population.

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