UK coronavirus variant found in Southern California

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The new U.K. coronavirus strain has been found in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.

The coronavirus  B.1.1.7. variant is said to be more transmissible than COVID-19, but it is not thought to be more virulent or resistant to vaccines and treatment. A study released by U.K. scientists found it to be 56 percent more contagious. 

The U.S. confirmed its first case of the variant Tuesday in an unidentified 20-something man in Colorado. Newsom announced that the new strain of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was found in Southern California. Both cases involve members of the Colorado National Guard, who were deployed to help Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Simla, where there was a widespread outbreak.

The U.S. is now one of at least 17 nations with confirmed cases of the U.K. variant. South Africa and Nigeria have reported separate variants of the virus. 

"I'm not surprised you have a case or likely more cases in California," Dr. Anthony Fauci told Newsom in a virtual conversation. "I don't think Californians should feel this is something odd — this is something expected."

The COVID-19 causing coronavirus and others like it mutate often, he said.

"To all of my Californian friends — and I have many — they should realize this is an RNA virus … RNA viruses, they make a living out of mutating, they love to mutate," Fauci continued. 

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The variant’s detected arrival in California comes as cases and hospitalizations reach an all-time high in the state, and ICU capacity is 0 percent in Southern California. Facilities have begun to discuss the possibility of rationing care. California hit a one-day death record Tuesday when 442 people died from coronavirus. 

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