South African COVID-19 variant discovered on Long Island

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that the South African variant of COVID-19 was discovered on Long Island.

The South African variant case involved a resident of Nassau County, Cuomo said in a news release. The sequencing was conducted at Opentrons Labworks Inc’s Pandemic Response Lab, a New York City-based commercial lab, and verified at the Wadsworth Center in Albany.

"We continue to see a reduction in positivity and hospitalizations throughout the state, which is good news, and this progress is allowing us to reopen the valve on our economy even further," Governor Cuomo said. "But with the discovery of a case of the South African variant in the state, it's more important than ever for New Yorkers to stay vigilant, wear masks, wash hands and stay socially distanced. We are in a race right now — between our ability to vaccinate and these variants which are actively trying to proliferate — and we will only win that race if we stay smart and disciplined."

"Case numbers and positivity rates in Nassau County continue to drop – but we need to keep that progress going," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement. "We don’t believe the South African variant is more deadly, but it may be more contagious. The best response is to continue the tried and true precautions: wearing masks, avoiding social gatherings, distancing, staying home and getting tested when sick. Nassau County is NY’s leading large County in vaccinations according to State data, and we’ll continue to get as many shots in arms as quickly as we can."

The mutated version of the virus, originally identified in South Africa, was first found in the United States last month. Scientists believe it is more easily spread than other virus strains.

Governor Cuomo also announced that the state's COVID-19 positivity rate, now at 2.99%, was beneath 3 percent for the first time since November 23.

A Connecticut resident in a New York City hospital tested positive for the virus last week.

With the Associated Press.

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