Maryland has detected the U.K. coronavirus variant known as B.1.1.7 in two residents, officials said Tuesday, marking the first such instance in the state. Officials said both cases involve residents younger than 65 who live in the same household, and that one of the individuals had traveled internationally prior to infection.
Neither of the patients required hospitalization, and additional contract tracing measures are underway, the press release stated.
“Our state health officials are closely monitoring the emergence of the B-117 strain of SARS-CoV-2 in the state,” Gov. Larry Hogan said, in the press release. “We encourage Marylanders to practice caution to limit the additional risk of transmission associated with this strain. It is critically important that we continue to follow standard public health and safety measures, including mask-wearing, regular hand washing and social distancing.”
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Both cases were confirmed at an independent lab licensed in Maryland.
As of Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had tallied at least 72 cases of the variant in the U.S., not including the two most recently confirmed in Maryland. California has confirmed the most cases with 32, followed by Florida who has reported 22, Minnesota which has seen five, New York which has detected four, Colorado which has seen three, Connecticut which has tallied two, and then Indiana, Texas, Georgia and Pennsylvania which has each seen one case.
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The variant is believed to be more transmissible, but not more virulent or lethal. Pfizer and BioNTech have voiced confidence in their vaccine’s ability to protect against the variant, and the “flexibility” of mRNA technology should the need for tweaks arise.