Public health officials in Los Angeles County said that the UK COVID-19 strain discovered late last year was found in the county, warning that a surge of the CCP virus will continue into the near future at the very least.
The B.1.1.7 strain of the CCP virus—a novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China, in 2019—was first found in the UK several months ago, and officials believe it’s more contagious. However, officials have said that there are no signs suggesting that it’s more deadly, although the new variant could hamper efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
Los Angeles County on Jan. 16 surpassed 1 million overall CCP virus cases, officials said.
“The presence of the U.K. variant in Los Angeles County is troubling, as our healthcare system is already severely strained with more than 7,500 people currently hospitalized,” Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said in a statement.
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the more contagious UK strain has been detected in at least 10 states so far, including New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. The B.1.1.7 variant was previously discovered in San Diego and San Bernardino counties in California.
It was first reported by state authorities in a rural area in Colorado, hours away from Denver. Officials said in December—when it was found—that the patient hadn’t traveled.
Federal health officials warned that models have shown that the B.1.1.7 strain of the virus has the potential to increase “the U.S. pandemic trajectory in the coming months” and “warrants universal and increased compliance with mitigation strategies, including distancing and masking.”
As a result, “our community is bearing the brunt of the winter surge, experiencing huge numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, five-times what we experienced over the summer,” Ferrer stated on Jan. 16.
“This more contagious variant makes it easier for infections to spread at worksites, at stores, and in our homes. We are in the midst of a public health emergency, so please do everything you can to protect yourselves and those you love.”
Ferrer said that people who can work from home should do so, adding that there should be no “crowding anywhere.”
“Wash your hands every hour and wipe down frequently touched surfaces multiple times a day. We need to use the tools at hand to keep each other from becoming infected,” she stated.
California as a whole is struggling with the CCP virus. On Jan. 15, officials told the San Francisco Chronicle that the Golden State recorded 700 deaths from the virus in one day, the highest since the start of the pandemic.
Officials noted that vaccination efforts appear to be falling behind, and only about a third of doses allocated to the state have been used so far, according to the SF Chronicle.