A second COVID mutation is now in FL, on top of the United Kingdom strain spreading through the U.S.

By: - February 19, 2021 10:05 am

This is an image of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The virus is now creating mutations that are spreading in the United States and elsewhere. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Lab

A second COVID mutation emerging from Brazil is now in Florida, adding to cases of the United Kingdom strain that has been spreading across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday evening.

The Brazil mutation, called P.1, is in four states right now: Starting in Minnesota and Oklahoma, and now Maryland and Florida.

The Brazil strain is on top of the United Kingdom variant, called B.1.1.7, and Florida has the largest number of cases in the nation — 433 — for the United Kingdom strain, according to CDC data from Thursday evening.

Overall, the CDC reported 1,523 cases of the United Kingdom variant in 42 states — 41 states and Washington, D.C. — and it is considered more contagious and potentially more deadly than the original virus.

The Brazil variant, now with one case in Florida, is described this way by the CDC:

“In Brazil, a variant called P.1 emerged that was first identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. This variant contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies. This variant was first detected in the US at the end of January 2021.”

The Brazil strain was one of three variants that the CDC has been tracking as COVID-19 began spreading. The other strain is the South Africa variant, called, B.1.351, that is in 10 states.

All three of the mutant strains raise several concerns, including whether the current vaccines will protect people from the COVID mutations.

The CDC has stated that:

“These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.

“So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.”

(The cases identified are based on a sampling and do not represent the total number of B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 lineage cases that may be circulating in the United States.)

Now that the new COVID strains are spreading, health experts have cautioned people to take measures such as masking and double-masking, physical distancing, and quarantining.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been against a statewide mask mandate. And the governor and the Florida Department of Health have done little to let the public know about mutated COVID strains.

Other states with large numbers of United Kingdom cases are: California, 195; Michigan, 157; Georgia, 79; New York, 70; Colorado, 67; Texas, 60 and New Jersey, 50.

The South Africa strain is in these 10 states: California, Texas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Washington, D.C.

Only one state, Maryland, has all three strains in their state.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.