It’s only been about a month that the U.K. variant of the coronavirus has been on Americans’ radars. And in that time, the new strain, known as the B.1.1.7 variant, has proven itself to be between 50 percent and 74 percent more transmissible than the standard coronavirus strain that we’ve been battling for months now. In the last three weeks, the U.K. strain has taken hold in the U.S., leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to warn that it will be the dominant strain by March, an alarming thought considering its increased transmissibility. As of Jan. 20, the U.K. COVID strain has been found in 20 U.S. states, according to the CDC. But while most states have a handful of cases, two have 40 or more. Read on to find out where the hotspots of the new U.K. COVID strain are, and for more on where the pandemic is headed, check out The CDC’s Alarming New COVID Warning.
Florida has 46 cases of the U.K. strain.
The Sunshine State, which faced a terrible surge over the summer, has the third biggest COVID outbreak in the U.S. at the moment, according to Jan. 20 data from Covid Act Now. But it has the largest number of cases of the new U.K. variant of anywhere in the country, making it the first of two U.S. hotspots for the new COVID strain.
Florida’s first reported case of the U.K. strain came on Dec. 31 and since then, 45 more have appeared. “This new strain is more contagious, and that means more people will get infected,” Frederick Southwick, MD, a professor of medicine and a specialist in infectious diseases at the University of Florida, told the Associated Press. “If we had a problem, we’re going to have more of a problem now.” And for more on states that have identified the new strain, check out The U.K. COVID Strain Is Now in These 20 States.
And California has 40 cases of the new strain.
Currently, California has the worst COVID outbreak in the U.S. overall, Covid Act Now reports. It also has the second-worst outbreak of the new U.K. variant, which was first discovered there on Dec. 30.
“The presence of the U.K. variant in Los Angeles County is troubling, as our healthcare system is already severely strained with more than 7,500 people currently hospitalized,” Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, Director of Public Health in Los Angeles, said in a statement on Jan. 16. “Our community is bearing the brunt of the winter surge, experiencing huge numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, five-times what we experienced over the summer. This more contagious variant makes it easier for infections to spread at worksites, at stores, and in our homes. We are in the midst of a public health emergency so please do everything you can to protect yourselves and those you love.”
For comparison, the state with the next highest number of confirmed cases of the U.K. strain is New York, with 17.
And for more on where COVID is surging, check out This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.
In about a month, the U.K. variant is likely to become the dominant strain in the U.S.
On CBS’s Face the Nation on Jan. 17, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said that while it seems like these are small numbers, it’s only getting worse and it’s growing quickly. “Right now, this new variant is about 0.5 percent of all infections nationally. There’s hotspots in Southern California and Florida that may be closer to 1 percent, but it’s going to double every week,” Gottlieb said. “That’s the experience from other countries and that’s the experience we’ve seen so far in the United States. So it’s 1 percent now. It’ll be 2 percent, then 4 percent, then 8 percent, then 16 percent, then 32 percent. So in about five weeks, this is going to start to take over.” And for more on how you can protect yourself, you should Stop Doing This Immediately to Avoid the New COVID Strain, Doctors Warn.
Experts say to prepare for “a relentless strike from this virus.”
Gottlieb explained that under normal circumstances, case numbers of COVID would have decreased as the weather improved, as is commonly the case with respiratory viruses. “But this really changes the equation,” Gottlieb said of B.1.1.7. on Face the Nation. “And I think what we’re looking at is a relentless strike from this virus heading into the spring, whereas infections really would have started to decline in the spring. We would have had a quiet spring. We could have persistently high levels of infection in the spring until we finally get enough people vaccinated.” And speaking of the vaccine, beware that If You Take These OTC Meds, You Have to Stop Before Getting the Vaccine.