A highly contagious coronavirus variant first identified in Britain has been discovered in Florida, health officials said on Thursday.
The Florida Department of Health announced that a man in his 20s located in Martin County was the state’s first identified case of the variant. The man has no history of travel, officials said in a statement on Twitter.
“The Department is working with the C.D.C. on this investigation,” the statement reads. “We encourage all to continue practicing Covid-19 mitigation. At this time, experts anticipate little to no impact on the effectiveness of the Covid vaccine.”
Other cases of the variant have been identified this week in Colorado and California, and patients in those cases also did not report traveling outside of the United States. The variant, known as B.1.1.7, has not been known to lead to more severe cases of Covid-19, but it has been found to be more transmissible than previous forms, experts have said.
This means the new variant could bring more cases as well as casualties and hospitalizations, affecting an already frail health care system that has yet to see the full ramifications of holiday gatherings and travel amid the pandemic.
Mitigation efforts that have become staples of the pandemic — physical distancing, mask wearing and improved ventilation — will all need to remain a priority as the modes of transmission under the new variant have not changed.
This past week Florida saw an average of 10,246 coronavirus cases per day, according to a New York Times database. During a news briefing on Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said over 175,000 residents in the state have received a vaccine.
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