First Case Of New York Covid Variant, Believed To Be More Vaccine Resistant, Identified In Southern California

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state on Tuesday discovered the first New York variants of the virus in Southern California. He did not specify where the cases were found.

The New York variant has been spreading rapidly in recent days, with more than 700 cases — mostly on the East Coast — confirmed since it was first detected in November. Like other variants, the New York variety is also believed to be more easily passed from person-to-person, but federal authorities including Dr. Anthony Fauci have warned that the variant could be more resistant to current COVID vaccines.

While painting a rosy picture of California’s work controlling the spread of Covid-19, Newsom again preached continued vigilance and mask-wearing, despite Texas and Mississippi lifting such mandates, noting that yet another virus variant has been found in the state.

“We’re making progress but it is … not mission accomplished,” Newsom said during a visit to Long Beach. “And as we transition over the course of the next 90 to 100 days to get where the president and others have assured us we will be — and that’s a framework of abundance as it relates to vaccines and we begin to more quickly reopen our businesses and our schools — we must be mindful of these variants.”

“That’s why it’s essential and incumbent that we not put down our guard, moreover, remove our masks as it relates to addressing the transmissibility of this disease that is still taking thousands of lives every single day — hundreds of lives lost every single day here in the state of California,” Newsom said. “It is a deadly disease. It is not taking spring break off. It has not taken a day off since this time last year.

As Newsom spoke, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer omitted any mention of the NY variant as she ran through the list of those at play in the region.

Ferrer said the county had seen a near doubling of the (still small) number of UK variant cases discovered, one cases of the Brazilian variant, no instances of the South African variant and, most important, 239 cases of the so-called West Coast variants. She noted that that 239 was out of 679 samples tested.

“We will defeat it. We will turn the proverbial page. We are doing so, but let us please maintain our vigilance as we work through and get to the herd immunity.”

Newsom noted that as of Wednesday, the testing-positivity rate in the state has dropped to 2.2%, noting there are “only a few states in America with lower positivity rates than California.”

City News Service contributed to this report.