SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. – Sumter County is the latest county in Central Florida to report that one of its residents has tested positive for the more contagious U.K. COVID-19 variant.
The Sumter County Health Department said Monday that the sole case is the only one detected to date.
Nearby Brevard, Volusia and Lake counties also each have just one positive case of the strain while Seminole County has reported six, Osceola County has reported three and Orange County has seen two among visitors, as of the most recent numbers available.
While the B.1.1.7 variant is believed to be more contagious, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there’s no evidence that it’s more deadly, leads to more severe symptoms or responds any differently to available vaccines.
Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said the best defense against any variant of the virus is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly possible.
“The pharmaceutical companies are analyzing and the evidence suggests that vaccines continue to be effective, as it is right now, although now only we have now the U.K. variants, we also have the South Africa and then Brazil and who knows what else could pop,” Pino said. “So anyone who has access to the vaccine that has the opportunity should get vaccinated. The concern is that it could continue to mutate and some of the mutations could bring resistance and that’s always a concern.”
The South Africa and Brazil variants have both been detected in the U.S. as of late January, but not in the Sunshine State.