Colorado Finds First US Case of UK COVID Variant

Shoppers wear face masks while in search of after Christmas bargains in shops in the Denver Pavilions Tuesday Dec. 29 2020 in downtown Denver

Shortly after his remarks, Colorado's Governor Jared Polis announced on Twitter that his state had discovered a case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 first detected in the United Kingdom.

Both individuals are Colorado National Guard personnel who were deployed to support staffing at the Good Samaritan Society assisted living center in Simla in Elbert County, said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist with the CDPHE. But U.S. health officials said the Colorado patient's lack of travel history suggests the new variant is already spreading in this country.

Despite their small genetic differences, the variants are all the same virus, SARS-CoV-2, and transmitted through droplets, meaning social distancing and masks should still work to slow disease transmission, according to the Public Health England report. Scientists were "confident" the new variant is "spreading faster than other virus variants", Peter Horby, chair of the UK's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, said last week.

"I don't think Californians should think that this is odd".

Initial analysis showed that while the variant appears to be more transmissible, there is no evidence it is linked to a higher risk of hospital admission or death, according to Public Health England. Early data so far doesn't suggest that children are more susceptible to infection from the variant, as some experts had initially anxious.

Biden's goal of ensuring that 100 million vaccinations are administered by the end of his 100th day in office would mean "ramping up five to six times the current pace to 1 million shots a day", Biden said, noting that it would require Congress to approve additional funding.

"Anybody age 70 and up can now legally receive the vaccine", Polis said, adding that 78% of COVID-19 deaths in the state involve people over age 70.

Separately on Tuesday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put off a vote on Trump's call to boost COVID-19 relief checks for Americans to $2,000, in a rare challenge to his fellow Republican.

"Now I'm anxious there will be another spring wave due to the variant", Bedford said.

The United States will likely see "homegrown variants" of Covid-19, similar to the one found in Colorado on Tuesday, said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

"If you have twice as many cases, then even if the amount of people who are sick is the same rate as it is now, that would definitely be bad", Diane Griffin, MD, an immunology professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told NBC News. 'We're going to see homegrown variants that are similar in character in terms of transmissibility, I can nearly promise you that'.

Twenty cases of the mutant coronavirus strain have so far been reported across the country.

Cases of the variant have been detected in Ireland.

South Africa has also identified a strain similar to the one first identified in the United Kingdom, but it emerged independently of the United Kingdom strain and is not related to it, according to the CDC. It has also been found in several other countries.

Polis thanked researchers at the state lab for identifying the variant, but noted that he believes it "is unlikely to be the first person with the variant here in the U.S".

The region was placed under strict lockdown measures, and dozens of countries banned flights from Britain.