More contagious COVID-19 variants could be to blame for rise in cases, CDC says

B.1.1.7 now most common strain in US

CDC: Variant first identified in UK now most common in US

The U.S. is currently seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases that could be fueled by the spread of more contagious virus variants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC officials released an update on Friday showing B.1.1.7, also known as the UK variant, is now the most common in the U.S.

According to the CDC’s case tracker, 19,554 cases have been reported nationwide. The variant has been detected in every state and in Puerto Rico, officials said. Nearly 3,500 cases have been confirmed in Florida.

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Health officials said the variant may be more contagious than others.

“This variant is associated with increased transmissibility (i.e., more efficient and rapid transmission),” the CDC’s website reads. “In January 2021, scientists from (the) UK reported evidence that suggests the B.1.1.7 variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants.”

Other variants are also making their rounds throughout the U.S., as seen in the chart below.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. had been dropping since the last peak in January as the number of vaccinated Americans increased but recently, hospitalizations have either plateaued or risen for all age groups, data shows.

The agency says current data suggests the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out across the U.S. should work against the variants, though the evidence is limited on how the new variants will affect how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions.

The CDC is encouraging Americans to get vaccinated against the virus as soon as a shot is available to them, however, those who are vaccinated should not consider themselves in the clear when it comes to the deadly disease.

Recently, the director of the CDC warned of a fourth wave of cases, saying too many Americans are declaring virus victory too quickly.

Mask wearing and social distancing are still encouraged for anyone out in public but some recommendations have been rolled back for those who have been inoculated. Updated CDC guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated can be found here.

President Joe Biden announced earlier this week that he’s bumping up his deadline by two weeks for states to make all adults in the U.S. eligible for coronavirus vaccines. He’s now targeting April 19.

In Florida, anyone 16 and older can receive a shot. Click here to find a vaccination location near you.

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