Feb. 12, 2021 -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that two cases of the South African coronavirus variant have been detected in the San Francisco Bay area.
Speaking on Wednesday at a news conference, Newsom didn’t provide any details about the cases in Alameda and Santa Clara counties.
The highly contagious South African variant, known as B.1.351, has been also been found in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Maryland, the CDC says.
Scientists say the variant is highly transmissible and that vaccines currently used in the United States may not be as effective against it as other versions of the coronavirus.
Newsom also said 159 cases of the variant first found in the United Kingdom, known as B.1.1.7, have been detected in California.
That variant is also highly communicable, but current vaccines appear to be effective against it. The CDC says more than 900 cases of the UK variant have been found in 34 states.
No cases of the Brazilian variant have been found in California. Newsom said 1,203 cases of the so-called West Coast variants have been located in the states -- a 20% increase in less than a week.
Though the governor didn’t discuss it at the news conference, California moved ahead of New York State on Wednesday in the total number of COVID-related deaths.
As of Thursday afternoon, Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center reported that California had recorded 45,506 deaths, compared to New York’s 45,450. Texas has 40,200 deaths and Florida 28,382.
Newsom said the state has made “tremendous progress” in the fight against COVID-19.
He said the testing positivity rate is now 4.8%, down from 13.9% a month ago. Daily new cases have dropped to around 8,400, down from about 50,000 a month ago. Hospitalizations have gone down 34% in the last two weeks.
“We’re seeing progress in every category,” Newsom said.