“Florida, which was already the country's hardest-hit state for two kinds of coronavirus variants, more than doubled its tally of the variants in a report released Sunday by the Centers for Disease Control.
Florida had reported 1,075 variant cases through Thursday. Sunday's report added another 1,255 cases, bringing the state to 2,330.
The United States as a whole reported another 2,303 variant cases on Sunday, more than double the worst increase ever seen in the thrice-weekly CDC updates. The previous record was set Tuesday.
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That brings the country to 10,985 known coronavirus variants, a tally that more than doubled in the last two weeks as new coronavirus cases overall in the United States stopped their months-long decline.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, recently noted that as long as the pandemic rages out of control anywhere, variants can emerge and pose risks to those thought to be immune.
Most of the variant cases in Florida, and the United States overall, are of B.1.1.7, a variant first seen in the United Kingdom that spreads more easily and may be more likely to kill its victims. But Florida also nearly doubled its case count of P.1, a variant first seen in Brazil, adding another 19 cases to reach 42. Florida, with about 1/15th of the country's population, now has about a fifth of the country's B.1.1.7 cases and a third of the P.1 cases.
Florida health officials say the state is the national leader in sequencing for variants of the virus.
“By leading in sequencing, the Department is actively looking for the variant in Florida, which is why more cases are being discovered in Florida,” spokesman Jason Mahon said in an email to the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida in January.
Michigan, the country's second-highest state for variants, reported another 254 cases since Thursday and 625 cases in the last week, bringing its total to 1,242. Besides Florida and Michigan, other states more than doubled their variant counts in the last week included Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia.
Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin all reported their first P.1 cases in the last week. Alabama, Indiana and South Dakota in the last week reported their first cases of B.1.351, a variant first seen in South Africa.“