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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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COVID-19 mass-vaccination of healthcare workers takes place at Dodger Stadium. Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Los Angeles County officials said Saturday they had detected the county's first case of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom.

Why it matters: The announcement came as L.A. became the first county to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, straining the area's already overwhelmed health care system.

  • L.A. County on Saturday recorded 14,669 new coronavirus cases and 253 new deaths.
  • To date, the county has confirmed 1,003,923 positive cases and 13,741 deaths.

The big picture: California had previously reported cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in San Diego and San Bernardino counties, per the Los Angeles Times.

  • The L.A. County Department of Public Health said Saturday the variant was found in a male who traveled to Oregon, where he is now isolating.
  • "Although this is the first confirmed case of the U.K. variant in Los Angeles County, Public Health believes that it is already spreading in the community," the department noted.
  • While the variant is more contagious, it does not appear to be resistant to existing vaccines or cause more severe symptoms.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that variant, detected in more than a dozen states, will likely become the dominant strain in the U.S. in March if more steps aren't taken to mitigate the spread.

What they're saying: "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," said L.A. County public health director Barbara Ferrer in a news release.

  • "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," she added.
  • "This more contagious variant makes it easier for infections to spread at worksites, at stores, and in our homes."
  • "We need to use the tools at hand to keep each other from becoming infected.”

Go deeper: SoCal on the brink

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Updated Mar 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions — Exclusive: Teenagers' mental health claims doubled last spring.
  2. Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans' hopes rise after a year of COVID
  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  4. World: China and Russia vaccinate the world, for now.
  5. Energy: Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels.
  6. Local: Florida gets more good vaccine newsMinnesota's hunger problem grows amid pandemic — Denver's fitness industry eyes a pandemic recovery.
Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Americans increasingly see China as an enemy

One in three Americans, and a majority of Republicans, now view China as an enemy of the United States, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: Just 9% of Americans consider China a "partner," while 55% see Beijing as a "competitor" and 34% as an "enemy."

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