LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A new, more contagious variant of COVID-19 that was first detected in the United Kingdom has been identified in Southern California, officials announced Wednesday.
Without offering specifics, California Gov. Gavin Newsom made the announcement during an online conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Officials tell CBSLA the person who tested positive for the mutant strain is a 30-year-old man from San Diego County with no travel history.
Newsom did not offer any additional details or specifics regarding the location of the variant, which researchers say is no more dangerous than the original virus but is much more easily transmitted from person to person.
According to Fauci, detecting the variant in California was not unexpected, adding “we likely will be seeing reports from other states” after it was first found United States Tuesday in Colorado.
“Every once in a while you get a mutation that does impact a function of the virus. It appears from what we learned from the UK and what will prove here is that this particular mutation does in fact, make the virus better at transmitting from one person to another,” said Fauci.
But in a news conference later Wedneday afternoon, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the new variant had not been found in testing so far, but she did not discount the possibility it could already been present.
Fauci also estimated that if the U.S. could achieve immunization levels between 70%-85% through summer 2021, Americans can hope to safely resume large group activities.
“By the time we get to the early fall, we will have enough good herd immunity to be able to really get back to some strong semblance of normality schools, theaters, sports events, restaurants,” he said.