New York State now has 25 cases of B.1.1.7

On Friday, three more New York cases of the high transmissible B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19, first identified in the United Kingdom, were announced.

This brings the state’s tally to 25.

Two of the new cases are in Westchester and one in Kings County, said Governor Andrew Cuomo at his press briefing on Friday.

Cuomo also reiterated concerns he has about other variants of the virus.

“The new strains are frightening,” he said. “The U.K. strain, Brazil strain, now the South Africa strain, and there are going to be more strains, I would wager on it.”

Cuomo went on, “The UK strain has been spreading, should have never been here, if this federal government had done the testing and the quarantine mandate that other countries did, but, we are where we are.”

President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Thursday, Jan. 21, that says “to the extent feasible,” travelers entering the United States from foreign countries must produce proof of a negative test for COVID-19 and self-quarantine as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is unclear how that would be enforced.

“We’re up to 25 cases in New York,” Cuomo said. “CDC has said the U.K. strain is going to overtake the COVID-19 strain by March. That’s how quickly this strain spreads. If that is true, you could see the infection rate go up again. So, hence don’t get cocky with COVID.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on Friday evening had Wednesday’s total for New York State: 22. It reported 195 cases nationwide with the most in California, 72, followed by Florida, with 50.

Last week, the CDC sounded the alarm on the dangers of the B.1.1.7 variant.

“Modeling data indicate that B.1.1.7 has the potential to increase the U.S. pandemic trajectory in the coming months,” said the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, issued on Jan. 15.

“The modeled trajectory of this variant in the U.S. exhibits rapid growth in early 2021, becoming the predominant variant in March,” says the CDC paper.

The report also said, “The increased transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant warrants universal and increased compliance with mitigation strategies, including distancing and masking. Higher vaccination coverage might need to be achieved to protect the public.”

While the variant does not produce different “clinical outcomes” — in other words, symptoms and severity of the disease are the same — B.1.1.7 has a higher rate of transmission, the report says.

The higher transmission “will lead to more cases, increasing the number of persons overall who need clinical care, exacerbating the burden on an already strained health care system, and resulting in more deaths,” the CDC report says.

The CDC calls for “strategic testing” of people without systems as well as for “rigorous implementation of public health strategies” to buy “critical time to increase vaccination coverage.”


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