US reports record number of variant coronavirus cases
The U.S. on Sunday reported an all-time high of 306 cases of coronavirus variants, with the majority concentrated in Florida, Michigan and Texas, USA Today reported.
The new cases included 104 new infections in Florida, for a total of 605 in that state; 85 in Michigan, for a total of 421; and 41 in Texas, for a total of 102. Although various new strains are known to be circulating in the U.S., the majority of the new and existing variant cases are the B.1.1.7. strain that originated in the United Kingdom. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said the British strain may become the most common in the country over the next month.
Overall coronavirus cases declined in February after reaching an all-time high in January, but there are signs the decline is slowing or reversing. The majority of states on Sunday reported rising case counts for the past week for the first time in more than a month.
Both the variants and the trends come as the U.S. continues administration of the coronavirus vaccine. Over the weekend, Johnson & Johnson began distribution of its shot after it received emergency-use authorization and became the third available vaccine.
The White House has said Johnson & Johnson will have its shots at distribution sites as early as Tuesday and distribute millions of the single-shot vaccine across the country during the next week along with the existing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. CDC data indicates just under 50 million Americans have received at least one dosage of the vaccine.
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, has said the vaccines will be largely effective against emerging mutations.
“When you get a variant that diminishes the capability of the vaccine, when you get a good vaccine … you cannot necessarily get the get the best possible response, but it’s still within the cushion of effectiveness,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.