At least 63 cases of a variant first identified in the UK have been identified in eight US states, according to data posted Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This includes at least 32 cases in California, 22 cases in Florida, three cases in Colorado, two cases in Connecticut, and one case each in Georgia, New York, Texas and Pennsylvania.
CDC says this does not represent the total number of cases circulating in the US, but rather just those that have been found by analyzing positive samples. The agency cautions that its numbers may not immediately match those of state and local health departments.
While the variant appears to spread more easily, there's no evidence that it's any more deadly or causes more severe disease, according to CDC. It has also been found in more than 40 countries worldwide.
Experts suspect there could be many more cases in the country and have criticized the US for not doing more genetic sequencing of virus samples to surveil for mutations. On Sunday, a CDC official told CNN the agency plans to more than double the number of samples it sequences over the following two weeks -- with a target of 6,500 per week.
The earliest-known US sample that carried the current version of the variant was taken on December 19 in Florida, according to the genomic database GISAID. However, collection dates are unavailable for all samples.