Jan 4, 2021 - Health

New York reports first case of fast spreading coronavirus variant

Photo of a masked Andrew Cuomo looking down, an American flag and seal behind him
Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

A New York resident with no known travel history has tested positive for the coronavirus variant spreading rapidly in the United Kingdom, Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed Monday.

Why it matters: New York is the fourth state to confirm a case of the variant, which is believed to be at least 50% more contagious. Colorado, California and Florida have also reported cases.

  • The individual who tested positive for the variant is from Saratoga County, Cuomo said.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that while the variant has increased transmissibility "there is no evidence to suggest that the variant has any impact on the severity of disease or vaccine efficacy."
  • A non-peer-reviewed study by the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that the variant is 56% more transmissible than other strains.
  • The British government previously warned that the new variant could be up to 70% more transmissible.

The big picture: If the variant is more contagious, that means more are people getting sick, a certain portion of which will require care from the already strained health care system, Axios' Caitlin Owens notes.

  • That increased burden in itself could become more deadly, as patients receive a reduced quality of care.

By the numbers: Over the weekend, New York became the fourth state to top 1 million cases, per Johns Hopkins University data.

  • There are currently more than 8,251 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, Cuomo said Monday.

Go deeper: America's vaccine rollout: What went wrong

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