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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan during a press conference in Annapolis in December 2020. Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Saturday that the potentially more transmissible coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa has been identified in the state.

Why it matters: Maryland is the second state to confirm a known case of the B.1.351 variant. Although there is no evidence that infections by this variant cause more severe disease, preliminary data indicates that it spreads faster and more easily than the original coronavirus strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Details: The Maryland case involves an adult living in the Baltimore metro region who has not traveled internationally, "making community transmission likely," Hogan's office said.

  • "Comprehensive contact tracing efforts are underway to ensure that potential contacts are quickly identified, quarantined, and tested," the governor's office added.

The big picture: South Carolina reported the first known U.S. cases of the South African variant on Thursday.

  • Vaccine developers Moderna and Pfizer have reported that their vaccines, while still effective, offer less protection against the South African variant.

What they're saying: After South Carolina reported its cases, the CDC said that its recommendations "for slowing the spread — wearing masks, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds, ventilating indoor spaces, and washing hands often — will also prevent the spread of this variant."

Go deeper: Coronavirus variants demand a tougher response

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 30, 2021 - Health

We're selling the coronavirus vaccine short

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines against disease and death has been remarkable, but too much emphasis on the unknowns about transmission could discourage people from getting vaccinated.

Why it matters: The best vaccine in the world won't stop the pandemic if too few people take it.

Updated 18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Jan 30, 2021 - Health

CDC orders mask mandate for planes and public transportation

Photo: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a public health order late Friday requiring face coverings on airplanes, trains and other public transportation to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Details: The order will go into effect on Monday at 11:59 p.m. and extends beyond the previous guidance announced by the White House.