SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah health officials confirmed the state's first case of the COVID-19 variant that's been seen in the United Kingdom on Friday.
Lab tests found a 25 to 44 year old man from Salt Lake County who tested positive last month had the variant. The state health department said the man hadn't traveled outside the state and experienced only mild symptoms.
"We fully anticipated we would find this strain in Utah," State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said in a statement. "We know this strain is more transmissible than previous COVID-19 variants, and our hospitals continue to operate near or over capacity. So now more than ever, Utah residents need to wear masks, practice physical distancing, and avoid large gatherings."
Cases of the United Kingdom variant have also been reported in Georgia, Colorado, California, Florida and New York.
The COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use are believed to effective against this strain, state health officials said. Preliminary information suggests the variant is significantly more contagious, though there is no evidence so far that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.