TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — The new coronavirus variant first reported in the United Kingdom then later reported in Colorado and California has now been detected in Florida, the state’s department of health said Thursday.
“Florida has evidence of the first identified case of the UK COVID-19 variant in Martin County,” the department said in a tweet. “The individual is a male in his 20s with no history of travel. The Department is working with the CDC on this investigation.”
Colorado health officials confirmed Wednesday that the first person in the U.S. known to be infected with the new and apparently more contagious variant of the coronavirus was identified as a Colorado National Guardsman who had been sent to help out at a nursing home struggling with an outbreak. And health officials said a second Guard member may have it, too.
California officials also confirmed later Wednesday that a San Diego County man has California’s first confirmed case of a new variant of the coronavirus.
The cases have triggered a host of questions about how the mutant version circulating in England arrived in the U.S. and whether it is too late to stop it now, with top experts saying it is probably already spreading elsewhere in the United States.
“The virus is becoming more fit, and we’re like a deer in the headlights,” warned Dr. Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute. He noted that the U.S. does far less genetic sequencing of virus samples to discover variants than other developed nations do, and thus was probably slow to detect this new mutation.
Florida has more than 1.3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 21,500 deaths according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University.