Newsom announces new U.K strain of coronavirus found in Southern California

Posted at 1:42 PM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 18:27:18-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KERO) — Governor Gavin Newsom announced the new COVID-19 variant that’s been seen in the United Kingdom has been found in Southern California.

The California Department of Public Health was notified by San Diego County Public Health Services of a patient with the variant COVID-19 virus strain.

Newsom made the announcement during a ‘virtual conversation’ Wednesday with the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The affected individual has no known travel history. Information about possible sources of infection is still being collected.

COVID-19 has many variants and early evidence has shown that B.1.1.7 might spread faster, but doesn't seem to include more severe symptoms, said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer with the CDPHE. However, there is concern that if it's more transmissible, it could lead to more hospitalizations, more filled ICU beds, and the potential to overwhelm the health care systems, he said.

Newsom said he was notified the new strain was in SoCal Wednesday afternoon. Dr. Fauci responded by saying he was not surprised the strain had made its way to California.

The first reported case of new COVID-19 variant in the U.S. was announced out of Colorado in Tuesday. The variant was found in a man in his 20s who is in isolation southeast of Denver in Elbert County and has no travel history, state health officials said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said its lab was the first in the country to identify the new variant, but it's unlikely the man is the first person to have it in the U.S.