DENVER (AP) — A new variant of the coronavirus that may be more contagious has been found in a Colorado man who had not been traveling, triggering a host of questions about how the first reported U.S. case of the new version showed up in the Rocky Mountain state.
The new variant was first identified in England, and infections are soaring now in Britain, where the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has surpassed the first peak of the outbreak in the spring. The new variant has also been found in several other countries.
Colorado officials were expected to provide more details at a news conference Wednesday about how the man in his 20s from a mostly rural area of rolling plains at the edge of the Denver metro area came down with the variant. Gov. Jared Polis announced the case Tuesday, adding urgency to efforts to vaccinate Americans.
For the moment, the variant is likely still rare in the U.S., but the lack of travel history in the first case means it is spreading, probably seeded by travelers from Britain in November or December, said scientist Trevor Bedford, who studies the spread of COVID-19 at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.