Yet another state has identified its first case of the more contagious coronavirus variant known as B.1.1.7 that was first discovered in the United Kingdom late last year.
Louisiana health officials over the weekend announced the state’s first case of the mutation, which was identified “in an individual in the Greater New Orleans area.”
No other details were provided.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged state residents to “double down” on effective mitigation measures now that the state has identified its first case of the variant.
“It was always a matter of time before this new strain of the virus would reach Louisiana, which is why our state health experts have been monitoring cases and working with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to prepare. There is no such thing as taking this too seriously,” he continued.
“Our case counts and hospitalizations are increasing daily and deaths from COVID have reached an alarming rate. I implore everyone to wear a mask, avoid people and places that are not implementing the mask mandate, social distance, wash your hands frequently and do not go around anyone if you are sick. Even with the vaccines available, controlling our behavior with the measures that are proven to help keep us safe is our best defense against spreading this virus to our family, friends and throughout our communities.”
More than a dozen states across the nation have identified cases of the variant, with Colorado being the first. It has since been found in New York, California, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Indiana, among others. Last week, Minnesota health officials announced five cases of the B.1.1.7 strain.
An ongoing list of where the mutation has been identified in the country can be found here.
The recently said that more than 50 cases of the mutated coronavirus strain have been identified across the U.S., and experts have cautioned that the variant is likely already widespread across the country. That figure has since exceeded 70 cases, though federal health officials have warned the true total is likely greater than the numbers reported.
Though the strain is thought to be more transmissible than COVID-19, experts are confident that existing coronavirus vaccines will work against the variant.