Arizona joins the list of states reporting cases of the UK Covid-19 variant, known as B.1.1.7.
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), the Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH), Pinal County Public Health Services District, and Arizona State University (ASU) announced the detection of the first three cases of the UK variant in the state in a press release Friday.
The health agencies did not offer any additional information on the cases or patients involved in the release.
The UK variant was first identified in the fall of 2020 according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The variant appears to spread more easily and has been found in at least 70 countries, according to information from the World Health Organization.
The CDC reports at least 434 cases of the UK variant in at least 30 US states, not including the state of Arizona, in data updated Friday on its website.
The new variant has wreaked havoc in the UK, fueling a surge in cases towards the end of 2020 despite a national lockdown being in place. Data showing an uptick in cases in younger people suggests this was largely because schools had stayed open, enabling the variant to spread rapidly.
The UK is a cautionary tale of what could happen elsewhere. American public health experts are warning about a possible new surge in Covid-19 cases caused by the strain first seen in southeast England. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that the B.1.1.7 strain could become the predominant variant seen in the United States by March.