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Florida Becomes 3rd U.S. State To Identify New Coronavirus Variant

Dec 31, 2020

Florida is the third U.S. state to announce it has a case of the more contagious coronavirus strain that first emerged in the United Kingdom.

A man in his 20s, with no history of travel, tested positive for the mutated coronavirus. The state Department of Health said he is in Martin County.

The man's diagnosis follows a similar case identified in California on Wednesday in which a male patient, also in his 20s, had not spent any time outside of the U.S. in the weeks prior to his illness.

The first two cases in the U.S. also adhere to that pattern. Two male members of the Colorado National Guard tested positive for the new strain — referred to as B.1.1.7 or VUI-202012/01 — and neither reported international travel. At least one of the two men is in his 20s.

Florida officials said they are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the case.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, on Wednesday said that he expected the new variant is likely present in multiple states.

Referring to reports of the mutation in California, Fauci said, "This is something that's expected."

There is no evidence to suggest the new strain is more deadly, nor is there research suggesting it is impervious to the effects of the vaccines that are being administered across the country.

Florida health officials urged residents to follow public health orders and "continue practicing COVID-19 mitigation" to prevent further spread of the virus.

Earlier this month, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis told Floridians they should not expect any additional lockdowns or mask mandates during the pandemic, saying such measures are "totally off the table."

"The lie of the lockdown was that if you just locked down, then you can beat the virus," he said. "Then why are people having to lockdown two or three times then?"

Officials say Florida has had over 1,300,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 21,000 deaths.

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