First case of South African COVID-19 variant confirmed in Florida

Florida now has all 3 mutations of COVID-19

Over the weekend, Florida reported its first confirmed case of the South African coronavirus variant as well as nearly 100 new cases of the variant first detected in the U.K.

There are currently multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants circulating globally, including the B.1.357 variant, which emerged in South Africa and was first detected in the U.S. in late January. It has been found in at least 30 other countries since it was first detected in South Africa in October 2020.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is one case of the B.1357 variant in Florida. The Sunshine State also continues to report more cases of the B.1.1.7. variant from the U.K. than any other state across the country.

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Florida reported 99 new cases of the U.K. mutation over the weekend, according to the CDC, bringing the state total to 599. There are also five documented cases in Florida of the P.1. variant originating from Brazil.

Viruses constantly mutate, and coronavirus variants are circulating around the globe, but scientists are primarily concerned with the emergence of three that researchers believe may spread more easily.

“So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants,” according to the CDC.

Kent Donahue, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said residents should be aware of these mutations.

“You should be concerned about the mutation of the virus itself ‘cause it is, like we said before, more transmissible,” Donahue said.

As the variants bring a potential for greater infection risks in the U.S., pandemic-weary lawmakers in several states are pushing back against mask mandates, business closures and other protective restrictions ordered by governors.

“You want to wear your mask, social distance, wash your hands all that but also when you can, get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” Donahue said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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