MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health is reporting the first identified case of a new COVID-19 variant initially found in the UK.
Health officials say the mutation was found in a 20-year-old man from Martin County with no prior history of travel.
The department is working with the CDC on an investigation.
"At this time, experts anticipate little to no impact on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine," the Department of Health wrote in a tweet.
The discovery comes on the same day that the state reported the highest single-day case number so far with 17,192 on Dec. 31.
This latest mutation set off alarms in parts of Britain just ahead of Christmas as the coronavirus mutation sparked a lockdown in the U.K. What followed was the Center for Disease Control and Prevention implementing a negative COVID-19 test requirement for travelers heading out of the country and to the U.S.
Earlier this week, top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the new mutation is something to "follow very carefully" and is something that was "very intensively" being looked into.
The first confirmed case of the new variant in the U.S. came from Colorado on Dec. 29. But some experts believe it was here sooner than that.
"I mean, invariably. If the virus was detected Sept. 20, it's invariable, you know, it has spread already to the U.S.," USF Public Health's Dr. Edwin Michael said.
At the time, Dr. Michael said that while the variant had not yet been detected in the U.S., he believed the CDC must have been gearing up for it.
Though, while important to monitor the latest variant, health experts do not want you to panic.
"I would caution everyone to not get super worried about it yet," said Dr. Jill Roberts with USF Public Health said in an interview with 10 Tampa Bay's Angelina Salcedo.
Roberts points out that although the variant is 56-percent more contagious due to the virus' ability to bind to cells in the body easier than in the past, it does not mean it is more serious.
Florida is now the third state in the U.S. to have reported an instance of the U.K.'s COVID-19 variant in residents.
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