Scientists in Los Angeles are trying to determine if the rapidly spreading strain of the coronavirus is putting a huge increase in cases in the UK behind a similar increase in California.
The mutation is up to 70 percent more contagious, but it does not look more deadly.
COVID-19 is out of control in Los Angeles County and other parts of California despite shutdowns and other efforts to stem the spread, with the state going through 2 million cases on Christmas Eve.
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Officials blamed the boom in holiday gatherings and travel, but also pointed to more mundane activities such as shopping as possible causes for the ongoing proliferation.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is among those wondering if the new variant of the virus might be behind the large numbers.
“It happened quickly devastatingly. Everyone I spoke to said that this acceleration exceeded all models and expectations, and then people said ‘What broke?’ and I have to think it’s partly the tension that was there, ‘Garcetti said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times.
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LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said a public health lab is starting a sequence of genes to test virus samples collected there, but it will take about a week to get the results .
This article first appeared in the New York Post.