Maryland reports case of South Africa coronavirus variant

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Saturday that the potentially more transmissible coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa has been identified in the state.

Why it matters: Maryland is the second state to confirm a known case of the B.1.351 variant. Although there is no evidence that infections by this variant cause more severe disease, preliminary data indicates that it spreads faster and more easily than the original coronavirus strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Details: The Maryland case involves an adult living in the Baltimore metro region who has not traveled internationally, "making community transmission likely," Hogan's office said.

  • "Comprehensive contact tracing efforts are underway to ensure that potential contacts are quickly identified, quarantined, and tested," the governor's office added.

The big picture: South Carolina reported the first known U.S. cases of the South African variant on Thursday.

  • Vaccine developers Moderna and Pfizer have reported that their vaccines, while still effective, offer less protection against the South African variant.

What they're saying: After South Carolina reported its cases, the CDC said that its recommendations "for slowing the spread — wearing masks, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds, ventilating indoor spaces, and washing hands often — will also prevent the spread of this variant."

Go deeper: Coronavirus variants demand a tougher response

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