Three additional cases of a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus have been identified in New York, including one on Long Island, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
Two of the cases are connected to the initial discovery of the variant identified in Saratoga Springs, which was announced Monday. The third case involving a 64-year-old man from Massapequa appears unrelated to the exposures in upstate New York, the governor said.
The Long Island man had first tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 27. State health officials were working with contact tracers in Nassau County to identify additional potential exposures.
The variant circulating in Britain has been detected elsewhere in the United States and in other countries.
“That brings the number of U.K. cases in this country to just about 55, and we believe that it is more widespread than that number would suggest,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing.
New York is trying to ramp up vaccinations as hospitalizations increase to more than 8,000 statewide, compared to about 5,000 a month ago. The state plans to allow a much wider swath of the public to be vaccinated in the coming week, including anyone age 75 or older.
The initial case identified in New York was a man in his 60s who works at a jewelry store in the upstate resort city. Workers at a state health department lab in Albany sequenced the virus from five additional employees from the jewelry store who had tested positive for COVID-19. They confirmed the strain was present in two of those people.