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COVID-19 variants could slow forward progress of pandemic in US

The coronavirus variant that emerged from the United Kingdom is spreading quicker in Florida than in any other state.

Florida currently has 201 recorded cases Monday, with that number expected to rise, so we looked at how that moves our herd immunity goal posts.

Nationwide, we’re making progress during the pandemic.

“Cases have continued to decline over the last four weeks,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky publicly, the new director of the CDC under the Biden administration. “New COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline.”

MORE: US COVID-19 Cases Caused by Variants

In Florida, our forward progress could come to a sudden stop.

“Florida’s growing pretty significantly right now,” said Dr. Scott Gotlieb during an interview on Face The Nation, the former FDA commissioner. “Between [5%] and 10% of the infections in Florida, B.1.1.7, that UK variant, the more contagious variant and that’s centered in Southern Florida.”

Florida has more cases of the UK variant than anywhere else in the United States at this time, and research finds these cases can double in about a week, spilling out beyond our borders sooner rather than later.

“The projection is that the 117 lineage will likely become dominant in the United States by the end of March,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

That’s only in reference to the UK variant.

Epidemiologist Dr. Stanley Weiss, a professor at Rutgers School of Public Health, says there’s already community spread of the South African and the Brazilian variants.

“Unless you have virtually everyone in the population get the vaccine or have gotten infected already, you’re not going to get to herd immunity,” Weiss told WINK News. “A survey last week said that still 24% of us adults didn’t want to get the vaccine. Well, if they don’t, we can’t reach herd immunity. We might have been close before we had this UK variant.”

“Get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can,” Fauci said. “That’s the best defense against the evolution of variants.”

There are currently seven known cases of the UK variant recorded in Southwest Florida, with two in Lee, Collier and Hendry counties and one in Charlotte County.

Nationally, there are 699 variant cases recorded across 34 states.

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Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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