Cuomo confirms the primary case of a brand new, contagious British virus pressure in New York – NBC New York
New York joined a growing number of states on Monday to confirm the presence of a new strain of the coronavirus that is believed to be at least 50 percent more contagious.
A man in his sixties who lives in New York state has tested positive for the British strain of coronavirus known as B.1.1.7, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a press conference Monday afternoon.
The Saratoga County man hadn’t traveled recently, leading state officials to believe that he got the virus from spreading it in the community, Cuomo said. “He has been symptomatic but is on the mend and doing better,” added Cuomo.
The governor says the man is linked to a jewelry store in Saratoga Springs. He advised anyone who had contact with N. Fox Jewelers on 404 Broadway between December 18 and 24 to get tested immediately. (The shop has been closed since December 24th).
NEW: Wadsworth Lab has confirmed New York State’s first case of the UK variant (B.1.1.7) of the COVID-causing virus.
A person from Saratoga County, New York tested positive for the strain. The person had no known travel history.
– Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 4, 2021
The state health authorities are already aware of at least three other people who are sick with COVID-19. However, they still have to be confirmed for the new variant, Cuomo said. Everyone’s test samples are being checked for the virus, and contract tracking from the jewelry store is already underway.
At least three other states have recently confirmed the presence of the new virus: Colorado, California, and Florida. The first US case of the UK virus was discovered in late December by Colorado health officials in a man in his twenties who also had no recent travel history.
The first identified cases of the variant were found in some of the county’s most populous states amid a busy travel-vacation-travel season. According to the TSA, an average of 1.1 million travelers have flown since Christmas, with the highest numbers reported on Sunday.
“We can be sure from the photos we all saw at TSA checkpoints during the vacation that millions of people have traveled between these destinations,” said Mercedes Carnethon, vice chairman of preventive medicine at Northwestern University, on Friday towards MSNBC. “We can be pretty sure that this variant is everywhere now.”
The British variant was first spotted in September, World Health Organization officials said earlier. Since then, cases across the UK have skyrocketed, leading Prime Minister Boris Johnson to decide on Monday to impose a national lockdown.
The British variant is one of two new contagious virus strains that have recently emerged, the CDC said in a telebriefing last week. While evidence so far does not suggest that there are either more serious infections or higher death rates, CDC COVID-19 incident manager Dr. Henry Walke that the increased ease of transmission could lead to many more cases.
The other variant may have been around in South Africa since October, according to the CDC, and also appears to be more transferable. This variant has yet to be discovered in the US, but health officials overseas warn that it may be “a bigger problem” than the UK variant. Vaccines are expected to work for both.
Identification of the variant requires extensive genetic sequencing of individual samples. Cuomo had already directed hospitals across the state to begin testing. As of Wednesday, state and private laboratories had analyzed the genetic sequencing of more than 4,300 samples since the spring. Three hundred and fifty were made just last week, Cuomo said.
Experts note that while the new variant makes it easier for the virus to spread, it doesn’t seem to make it any more deadly. The virus mutation poses a serious threat to hospitalizations, which has continued to increase in most states, particularly New York.
New York received more than 8,000 hospitalizations (8,251) nationwide for the first time since May 7, Cuomo said on Monday. At the weekend, it was the fourth state in the US to surpass a million confirmed cases after breaking its one-day case record on Thursday with no corresponding record number of tests performed.
So far, the state has administered about 300,000 starting doses out of three quarters of a million distributed doses, according to the CDC and Cuomo.