By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Health officials warned Thursday that the more-contagious strain of coronavirus first detected in the United Kingdom could cause a new surge in cases in California by April.

Researchers fear it could cause roughly 50 percent of all new COVID-19 cases by the spring.

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“We’re not going to stop this variant from taking hold, it’s too late for that,” said Doctor Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist with U.C.L.A. “The fear is going backward in opening things back up.”

The news coming as the rush to vaccinate as many people as possible is facing serious hurdles in the county. One after another, people who had appointments for COVID vaccinations Thursday at Hansen Dam Recreation Center arrived to find out due to a shortage, they had run out of doses.

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On Thursday, many people were eager to get their shots at Los Angeles’ city-run vaccination sites before they temporarily shutdown beginning Friday.

Last week, San Bernardino County announced two additional confirmed cases of the variant, bringing the total to four.

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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Thursday reported 3,489 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 160 deaths, bringing countywide totals to 1,158,619 cases and 18,658 deaths.