Another case of the more contagious COVID-19 variant has been found in Nassau County as the CDC says it will likely take hold nationwide in the coming months.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that the statewide confirmed total of the variant is at 16, including an additional case in Nassau.
“A higher infection with that variant puts more people in the hospital, stresses staff more,” says Cuomo. “UK variant can make more doctors and nurses sick — reducing the staffing. It’s a dangerous situation we’re in.”
The variant, known as B.1.1.7, has infected at least 76 people in 12 states. It’s estimated to be roughly 50% more transmissible than the more common strain. The CDC issued the sobering warning that the mutation could be predominant by March.
CDC models project that the variant could see “rapid growth” in the coming months, putting further strain on the health care system.
“We are already struggling with very high numbers of virus in all of our communities,” says Northwell Health’s Dr. David Hirschwerk. “Hospitalizations are at very high levels and the death rate continues to climb and be at very high levels. And that is without having this new variant at least as best we know, heavily infiltrating our area at this point.”
Medical experts say the UK variant’s increased contagiousness means the U.S. must double down on mitigation methods to help stop the spread of the virus.
“It becomes even more important that we are masking, that we are physical distancing and avoiding crowds, particularly in indoor spaces,” says Hirschwerk.