A month after the first case of the coronavirus variant detected in Britain was found in the US, the first known death from the strain has been reported. New Jersey state health commissioner Judy Persichilli said Wednesday that a man with no recent history of international travel had died from the B117 strain, the Hill reports. Persichilli said a total of eight cases of the variant, which is around 50% more transmissible and possibly more deadly, have been detected in New Jersey. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control, said during a White House briefing this week that the variant has been found in at least 26 states and could become the dominant strain by March.
Walensky told Good Morning America Friday that the officials are "scaling up" their tracking of COVID variants in the US now that the Biden administration has provided enough resources for "mass sequencing," the AP reports. Another worrying coronavirus variant, the B1351 variant first detected in South Africa, has now been detected in South Carolina, officials said Thursday. Walensky told Good Morning America that it was "concerning" that the two people diagnosed with the strain hadn't been to South Africa and didn't know each other, suggesting there is "community spread of this strain," which is more infectious and more resistant to vaccines. (Read more coronavirus stories.)