New U.K. Variant of COVID-19 Identified in California as Colorado Officials Suspect More Cases

California officials say they have identified a case of COVID-19 from the potentially more contagious virus strain first found in the United Kingdom, becoming the second state in the U.S. to spot the virus variant.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that the variant, B.1.1.7, was identified in Southern California, the Los Angeles Times reported.

ABC 7 reported that the case was found in a 30-year-old man in San Diego County and that health officials suspect there are other cases in the area considering the man has not recently traveled.

The news comes one day after the first U.S. case of the variant was identified in Colorado, where health officials believe a second case was found Wednesday.

While the new variant is suspected to be more contagious, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that "there’s no indication at all that it increases the virulence … the ability to make you sick or kill you."

"It doesn’t seem to make it more strong in that regard," he said, per the LA Times, adding that there is currently no indication that vaccines won't be effective against the new strain.

As of Monday, tests had not shown the variant in Los Angeles County.

"Whether the variant is here or isn’t here, the steps we need to take are exactly the same," the Los Angeles County's Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said, according to the LA Times.

California has been rapidly breaking its own records when it comes to most single-day deaths from COVID-19; on Tuesday, that number reached 442. The state has had more than 2.2 million cases of the virus, with a daily average of more than 39,000 in the last seven days, according to data from the New York Times.

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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced the first U.S. case of the seemingly faster-spreading variant on Tuesday, found in a man in his 20s who has no travel history. CNN reported that both cases in Colorado came from men who had been working in an assisted living facility. Both are in isolation, and there is "no indication" that it has spread beyond the facility, Elbert County public health director Dwayne Smith said.

Since first being identified in the U.K. — leading to lockdowns in the country and travel restrictions worldwide — the variant has been found in at least 17 other countries including Australia, Canada and Spain.

Even at the time of its discovery, health experts said that the variant was likely already in the U.S.

Fauci said Tuesday that he was "not surprised" about the first U.S. case.

"I think we have to keep an eye on it, and we have to take it seriously," he said, the Washington Post reported. "We obviously take any kind of mutation that might have a functional significance seriously. But I don’t think we know enough about it to make any definitive statements, except to follow it carefully and study it carefully."

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