The coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom is now the most dominant strain in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.
Scientists have found that the variant, known as B.1.1.7, is 50 percent more contagious than other strains. In January, 76 cases of the variant had been identified in 10 states; it now accounts for roughly 27 percent of U.S. cases, with Florida, Michigan, and Tennessee seeing some of the highest case totals, The Washington Post reports.
Even with the U.S. vaccinating an average of 3 million people a day, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, hospitalizations are up 2.7 percent over the previous week, with hospitals "seeing more and more younger adults — those in their 30s and 40s — admitted with severe disease." The daily number of new COVID-19 cases is also ticking up, but deaths are down by nearly 20 percent over the previous week.
Some clusters of coronavirus cases have been linked to day care centers and youth sports, Walensky said, and she stressed the importance of people getting tested and going into isolation if infected.