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A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Cal Poly on Feb. 5 in Pomona, CA. Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The highly contagious coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K. is doubling in the U.S. nearly every 10 days, according to a new study released on Sunday.

Why it matters: The preprint study from MedRxiv, which has not been peer-reviewed, comes after the CDC and top infectious disease experts have warned that the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the dominant U.S. strain.

Details: The MedRxiv preprint study found that the U.K. variant is 35-46% more transmissible in the U.S., which is in line with other estimates, including a Public Health England study that found B.1.1.7 is 30% to 50% more transmissible than other forms of the virus.

  • The CDC contracted with genomics company Helix in order to complete the preprint study.

What they're saying: “There could indeed be a very serious situation developing in a matter of months or weeks,” Nicholas Davies, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the New York Times. He was not involved in the study.

  • “These may be early signals warranting urgent investigation by public health authorities," he said.
  • Davies "cautioned that U.S. data is patchier than that in Britain and other countries," per the Times. “If these data are representative, there may be limited time to act."

Go deeper

Feb 7, 2021 - Sports

How the NFL countered COVID-19

Fireworks in Tampa Bay ahead of the Super Bowl. Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The NFL's giant COVID-19 experiment ends Sunday with the improbable feat of an on-time Super Bowl, capping a season with no canceled games.

Why it matters: The season suggests that with the right resources, safety measures and cooperation — all of which have been lacking in the general U.S. response — life can go on during the pandemic without uncontrolled spread of the virus. 

Supreme Court: California can't ban indoor worship, but can keep 25% cap

U.S. Supreme Court. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Supreme Court late Friday night lifted some restrictions on religious services in California spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, ruling the state cannot ban churches from holding indoor services, but can cap services at 25% capacity.

Details: The court ruled in two cases where churches sued the state over COVID-related restrictions, also declined to stop California from enforcing a ban on indoor singing and chanting.

Biden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

Biden speaking before the signing on June 17. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments," President Biden said before signing legislation Thursday that establishes Juneteenth as a federal holiday, just two days before the occasion.

Why it matters: The holiday, which will be known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, is now the 11th annual federal holiday and the first one established since the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.