CALIFORNIA (ABC4) – California’s governor has confirmed the new COVID-19 strain has reached his state.
Affiliate KRON4 reports Governor Gavin Newsom learned Wednesday afternoon that a case had been detected in California.
Gov. Newsom made the announcement during a live stream event with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who responded that he is not surprised.
Newsom said the case was detected in Southern California.
This comes less than a day after officials in Colorado confirmed a case of the new strain. Wednesday morning, officials announced that Colorado’s first case is a member of its National Guard. A second case is suspected in another Guard member.
Both Guardsmen were deployed to a nursing home with an outbreak of the virus in a small town just outside of Denver.
The first to get it, a man in his 20s, is recovering in isolation and has no history of traveling.
The new and seemingly more contagious variant of the coronavirus was first identified in Britain and has also been found in several other countries.
California recently reached a grim COVID-19 milestone, becoming the first state to record 2 million cases of COVID-19 on Christmas Eve.
Its medical systems are struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing number of residents hospitalized for COVID-19 complications. Just one week ago, almost 19,000 Californians were hospitalized – well below the 500 – give or take – that Utah reports on any given day.
California hospitals have even reached out to places like Australia and Taiwan to fill the need for thousands of temporary medical workers, particularly nurses trained in critical care.
News of the new coronavirus strain spreading across not only the U.S. but the world comes as states and countries work to administered the coronavirus vaccine. Concerns have been raised about whether the vaccine can protect against the new strain.
Officials like Melissa Nolan, an infectious disease expert and professor at the University of South Carolina, says the coronavirus vaccine designers predicted the virus would mutate and “included various predictions of viral strains” in the vaccine.
“These changes in the viral composition are expected,” Nolan said. “At the moment we have not seen any dramatic genetic shifts of concern.”
The novel strain is called SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01 or “B.1.1.7.” It was first discovered in September in the southeast of England, and may be responsible for the recent spike in cases in the region.
The CDC says there is no evidence to show that this new variant in the coronavirus causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. SARS-CoV-2 mutates regularly, with about one new mutation in its genome every two weeks. Many of these mutations are “silent,” meaning not expressed in the D.N.A.
In November, the CDC launched the National SARS-CoV-2 Strain Surveillance program to “increase the number and representativeness of viruses undergoing characterization.” Upon full implementation in January, every state will send the CDC at least 10 samples every two weeks for sequencing and characterization.
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