UK COVID-19 Variant Spreads Across Bay Area, Threatens Reopening Efforts Across Multiple Counties

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The UK variant of the coronavirus has been spreading throughout the Bay Area, infecting people faster than the previous virus, leading to more hospitalizations and fatalities, British scientists said.

More than 80 countries worldwide have reported experiencing the new variant, also called B117. In late September, Britain recorded the first known cases of the new variant, which has since spread and become 90% of the total cases in the UK.

New COVID-19 Variant

Many experts worry that the UK variant has the potential to be more dominant than the previous type of COVID-19 virus in the United States. Health officials warn the public that the new variant of the virus is quickly spreading, doubling the number of cases every ten days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it has already infected most U.S. states.

“We have over 1,000 cases of the B117 variant in, across the country, 39 states,” Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said.

Officials discovered the UK variant in the Bay Area only recently and have no knowledge of its spread. One University of California, San Francisco disease specialist, said the United States has been able to analyze only 1% of samples, putting it number 34 in the list of countries sequencing for the COVID-19 variants.

“So, the fact that we’re doing less than 1% means that this is the tip of the iceberg. There are probably, just by chance, probably reflects something that’s much deeper and already transmitted in our community,” Dr Peter Chin-Hong said.

On Friday, the UK variant of the coronavirus was deemed to have an “increased risk of hospitalization and death,” a study by British scientists revealed. However, the researchers said lack of data made the statistics unreliable of the new variant’s mortality risk.

What the medical professionals do know is that the UK variant is nearly 50% more contagious than the original. Many experts warn that it could completely take over the infections in the United States. The spread of the UK variant has also increased amid the easing of restrictions across the Bay Area and other parts of the U.S.

Several counties have begun allowing establishments to reopen, such as Minnesota, expanding the capacity of restaurants, gyms, and private events. Ohio, on the other hand, has removed their three-month-long overnight curfew. Indoor dining has been allowed in New York, albeit at 25% capacity, KTVU reported.

“Yes, it definitely has the potential to turn back the clock on some of the progress that we’ve made,” Chin-Hong said, citing the new variant could potentially roll back most of the reopening efforts.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.