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Dangerous new strains of the coronavirus are spreading rapidly across the country — even as more Americans are vaccinated. Carter Evans reports.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Now to some breaking news on the coronavirus pandemic. Tonight, the CDC is putting out new guidance on masks, as concern grows that those highly-contagious variants of the virus are now spreading rapidly nationwide.
And it comes even as deaths, hospitalizations, and new infections now appear to be dropping. We get more now from CBS's Carter Evans.
CARTER EVANS: Tonight, a disturbing new COVID development in California-- the arrival of the more aggressive variant, first discovered in South Africa.
GAVIN NEWSOM: Two cases have been reported through Stanford, one in Alameda County, and one in Santa Clara County. The issue of mutations is top of mind.
CARTER EVANS: The number of known variant cases in the US spiked 73% in the last week alone, with five states reporting the South African variant. Another strain first identified in the UK is now in 34 states, including Florida, which has seen nearly a 50% increase since Sunday.
University of Miami pathologist Doctor David Andrews is trying to track the variance.
DAVID ANDREWS: I really want to increase our ability to sequence more of this virus, to understand more about its biological behavior.
CARTER EVANS: Infectious disease doctor Jonathan Li tracked an immunocompromised patient in Boston, sick with a COVID variant for five months before he died. During that time, the virus inside him mutated more than 20 times.
JONATHAN LI: More rapid viral evolution and mutations can develop in these individuals, and that we really need to be paying attention to them.
CARTER EVANS: And there is promising news on double masking. The CDC now says wearing a medical mask under a cloth mask substantially improved containment of COVID-19 and can also protect the wearer from infection.
CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.
- These experiments in the CDC were remarkable. And they showed that if you wear two masks and they're well fitted-- that's the key thing-- that you can have more than 95% protection from the aerosols that you otherwise might get.
CARTER EVANS: The US just hit a milestone. 10% of the population has now received at least one shot, and new mass vaccination sites are going up around the country, including the home of the Mets in New York City, where people waited in the cold for a shot.
- If I have to wait here all day, as long as I hope for the best and we both can get it.
CARTER EVANS: Now, this is one of the mass vaccination sites in the L.A. area that is now only giving out second shots in an effort to conserve vaccine. Tonight, there is new CDC data obtained by CBS News that shows that 96% of Americans who got their first shot are now also receiving their second shot on time. Norah?
NORAH O'DONNELL: That is some very good news Carter Evans thank you.