More contagious UK COVID-19 variant arrives in Florida
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covid 19 florida
It is believed to be the first identified UK COVID-19 variant case in Florida.

The highly contagious coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom has arrived in the Sunshine State.

The reported case is in a Martin County man in his 20s who hadn’t traveled, according to the Florida Department of Health. It is believed to be the first identified UK COVID-19 variant case in Florida.

“The Department is working with the CDC on this investigation,” the department announced late Thursday. “We encourage all to continue practicing COVID-19 mitigation. At this time, experts anticipate little to no impact on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

FDOH provided no further details about the case.

Florida is among the earliest states to report a COVID-19 variant case. After spreading across the UK and other countries around the world, cases are now emerging in states such as California and Colorado.

The announcement comes hours after the COVID-19 pandemic slammed Florida with a new record total of 17,192 new confirmed cases Thursday. Since the onset of the pandemic,  more than 1.3 million cases have been reported in Florida and 21,673 Florida residents have died with the virus.

The announcement also came on the eve of a new year, further dampening a holiday once celebrated with evening parties, where many people danced, ate, drank, and watched fireworks.

While the strain isn’t believed to be more deadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the mutant strain is believed to spread more quickly.

“Scientists are working to learn more about these variants to better understand how easily they might be transmitted and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against them,” the CDC website says. “Currently, there is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death.”

Meanwhile, Florida is moving forward with vaccine distribution. The process, however, is not without controversy.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Wednesday urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to mobilize more National Guard resources to expedite Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution. In a letter to the Governor, Fried cited media reports describing Florida’s vaccine distribution as “very chaotic” and without a “clear strategy.

As of Wednesday, 211,165 people had been vaccinated in Florida, according to the Department of Health numbers.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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