Florida health officials said on Thursday they have evidence that the Covid-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom has been found in a patient there, making it the third state to report the strain.
The state Health Department tweeted that the strain was identified in a 20-year-old man in Martin County with no history of travel. The county is on Florida’s east coast, south of Port St. Lucie.
Florida has evidence of the first identified case of the UK COVID-19 variant in Martin County. The individual is a male in his 20s with no history of travel. The Department is working with the CDC on this investigation. We encourage all to continue practicing COVID-19 mitigation.
— Florida Dept. Health (@HealthyFla) January 1, 2021
“The Department is working with the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) on this investigation,” it tweeted.
The Covid-19 variant is believed to be more transmissible but not more deadly than the strain that started the pandemic, and there is no evidence that vaccines are any less effective against it, health officials say.
On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 had been identified in Southern California.
A day earlier, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said the variant had been identified there, while another state health official said a second possible case was being investigated.
The cases, found in individuals who had not recent traveled, showed the likely community spread of the variant from person-to-person in the United States. Health experts have said they believe the new variant is more infectious but recently approved vaccines should provide protection against it.
Health officials have stressed that the best way to avoid getting what is referred to as the U.K. variant is the same as for other forms of the coronavirus: washing hands, keeping away from crowds and other people and wearing a mask.
(With inputs from agencies)