Faster-spreading COVID-19 variant found in Louisiana

Published 9:32 pm Saturday, January 16, 2021

Louisiana has identified the state’s first case of the COVID-19 variant in a person in the New Orleans area, the governor’s office said Saturday.

The variant, frequently referred to as the U.K. variant because of its prevalence in the United Kingdom, spreads more easily than other viral strains currently circulating in the U.S., officials said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, in a statement, said it is urgent “that everyone double down on the mitigation measures that we know are effective in reducing the spread of the virus.”

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Edwards urged residents to wear masks, wash their hands, practice social distancing, avoid gatherings and to stay home when sick.

“It was always a matter of time before this new strain of the virus would reach Louisiana, which is why our state health experts have been monitoring cases and working with the CDC to prepare. There is no such thing as taking this too seriously. Our case counts and hospitalizations are increasing daily and deaths from COVID have reached an alarming rate,” Edwards said.

Edwards said the variant has been detected in at least 15 other states.

As of Thursday, there were 3,712 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed raising the number of confirmed cases to 322,565. In addition, 58 new deaths were reported, bringing that total to 7,631.