Health Care

Cuomo says more contagious coronavirus variant found in upstate New York

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The new, more contagious strain of coronavirus has been found in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, making it the fourth known state with a case of the variant.

An individual in Saratoga County in upstate New York has been confirmed to have the strain, sometimes known as the U.K. variant because it was first discovered in the United Kingdom.

Cuomo tweeted Monday that the person has no known travel history, indicating the new variant is spreading to some degree in the community.

Colorado, California and Florida have already reported cases of the new strain, and experts say they expect more cases to be confirmed in the coming days.

Because the new strain is more contagious, it is expected to start making up a larger share of cases.

“Epidemiological models and Britain’s experience indicate that, while only a few cases of the variant have been identified in the United States, it will likely become our dominant strain within a few months,” Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, and Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Sunday.

They argued that the risk from the new, more contagious strain further raises the urgency for quick vaccinations, and called for delaying the second dose of the vaccine in order to give first doses to more people more quickly.

Cuomo told reporters in New York that the case is a man in his 60s who works at a jewelry store in Saratoga Springs, according to NBC New York. Cuomo urged people who visited N. Fox Jewelers between Dec. 18 and 24 to get tested immediately.

The new strain is so far thought to be more contagious but not more lethal, experts say, and they expect vaccines will still combat it, though research is ongoing.

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