The presence of the new strain in Martin County, on Florida’s Treasure Coast, was first discovered Thursday through the CDC’s random sampling of COVID-19 tests.
The CDC is now working with the Florida Department of Health to examine more cases in the area and ascertain how much the new strain has spread.
It is unclear when the individual tested positive, but Martin County health official Carol Ann Vitani described the patient Saturday as “very cooperative,” following COVID-19 protocols. The person was asymptomatic and had not traveled outside the state recently.
Cases of the new strain, which originated in the United Kingdom, also were found in Colorado and California.
It is common for viruses to change as they spread, but some health experts are concerned that current vaccines won’t be effective if COVID-19 mutates too much.
For now, that is not the case.
“At this time, experts anticipate little to no impact on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine,” the state’s health department said.
The state is currently rolling out the coronavirus vaccine, giving priority to its vulnerable elderly population and health care workers with direct patient contact.
Florida has vaccinated 243,107 residents, but the head of the state’s Division of Emergency Management said Wednesday that the state is not getting the vaccine out fast enough.
“I know people are frustrated, and I know this is the light at the end of the tunnel and they want to get there as soon as possible,” Jared Moskowitz, who is overseeing Florida’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, told the Orlando Sentinel. “I know the systems set up aren’t meeting the moment.”
Florida has recorded 1,354,833 confirmed cases and 21,890 deaths from the disease.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.