TAMPA (WFLA) – The Centers for Disease Control says Florida has become the first state to have more than 300 cases of the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant first discovered in England.

The variant that emerged in Britain was detected in a Martin County man in his 20s on New Year’s Eve with no history of travel.

Florida surpassed California with the most cases of the mutated virus on Jan. 19. In that three-week time span, Florida gained 294 cases while California gained 116 cases. Across the nation, there are 932 reported cases.

New York trails at a distant third with 59 cases identified, followed by Georgia and Colorado with 37, Texas with 35, New Jersey with 31, and Michigan with 29.

USF epidemiologist Jason Salemi told 8 On Your Side there’s even more urgency to vaccinate Floridians with the spread of the variant strain.

“Even though we’ve been coming down, we need to continue to bring (the number of cases) down because the more opportunity we give the virus to replicate the more opportunity we give to the virus to mutate,” Salemi said. “And again, we don’t wan to run into any of these variants that increase the severity of illness or starts to evade our own natural immunity or vaccine acquired immunity, so I’m concerned.”

Back in January, Dr. Kami Kim, the director of the Infectious Diseases Division of USF Health told 8 On Your Side some of Florida’s then 50 cases of COVID-19 confirmed by the CDC to be caused by variant strains of the virus have been detected in Hillsborough County.

Neither the CDC nor the Florida Department of Health has said in which Florida counties these cases have been identified.



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