Florida becomes latest state to confirm case of highly contagious ‘UK COVID-19 variant’

Jessica Schladebeck, New York Daily News

Florida has become the latest state to confirm a case of the new and highly contagious variant of coronavirus, which first emerged in the United Kingdom before the holiday season.

The state department of health on Thursday confirmed a man in his 20s, with no history of travel, tested positive for the “UK COVID-19 variant.” He resides in Martin County.

“We encourage all to continue practicing COVID-19 mitigation,” the Florida Department of Health said in a tweet. “At this time, experts anticipate little to no impact on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

His infection makes Florida the third state to report a case of the mutated coronavirus. The first emerged earlier this week in Colorado. The patient was identified as a National Guardsman deployed to a nursing home that had been struggling with a COVID outbreak.

State Health officials later confirmed a second Guard member also contracted the disease.

Less than 24 hours later, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced another infection had cropped up Southern California during an online conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“This is something that’s expected,” Fauci said of the quicker-spreading strain and its presence in the United States.

At least three of the four patients are men in their early 20s with no recent history of travel.

As of Friday, Florida has reported more than 1,300,000 cases of coronavirus with more than 21,000 deaths.