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CDC DIRECTOR DR. WALENSKY: "It is the most common lineage, period."
The highly contagious variant of COVID-19 first discovered in the United Kingdom has become the most common strain of the virus in the United States, a top U.S. health official said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a White House briefing, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the strain, known as B.1.1.7, which was identified in Britain last fall, seems to be behind a surge in cases among young people.
"Hospitals are seeing more and more younger adults those in their 30-40s admitted with severe disease. Data suggests this is happening as we are seeing increasing prevalence of COVID variants, with 52 jurisdictions now reporting cases of variants of concern.
Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States."
Another variant – this one first discovered in South Africa that is thought to be resistant to some COVID-19 vaccines- has also been detected in the U.S.
U.S. public health officials have urged Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible in part to prevent these new variants from spreading.
U.S. President Joe Biden has doubled his goal for shots administered in his first 100 days in office from 100 million to 200 million and urged states to make all adults eligible for shots by mid-April.
Still, daily U.S. cases of novel coronavirus are averaging 63,000 per day over the past seven days, UP slightly from the previous week, with Certain hot-spots like Michigan setting records.
Walensky said testing will continue to be key: "Testing remains an important strategy to rapidly identify and isolate infectious individuals, including those with variants of concern."
She said that the CDC has identified a number of COVID-19 outbreaks tied to youth sporting events and that communities experiencing high case counts should avoid holding such events.