Coronavirus NY: Long Island resident has COVID variant 1st detected in South Africa

Coronavirus Update for New York

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Monday, February 22, 2021
Long Island resident has COVID variant first detected in South Africa
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The COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been detected in a New York resident for the first time.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The more contagious COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been detected in a New York resident for the first time.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the case involving a Nassau County resident on Sunday morning.

"Case numbers and positivity rates in Nassau County continue to drop - but we need to keep that progress going," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. "We don't believe the South African variant is more deadly, but it may be more contagious. The best response is to continue the tried and true precautions: wearing masks, avoiding social gatherings, distancing, staying home and getting tested when sick."

She said Nassau County is will continue to get residents vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Cuomo shared that the statewide positivity rate, now at 2.99 percent, dropped below 3 percent for the first time since November 23.

"We continue to see a reduction in positivity and hospitalizations throughout the state, which is good news, and this progress is allowing us to reopen the valve on our economy even further," Cuomo said. "But with the discovery of a case of the South African variant in the state, it's more important than ever for New Yorkers to stay vigilant, wear masks, wash hands and stay socially distanced. We are in a race right now - between our ability to vaccinate and these variants which are actively trying to proliferate - and we will only win that race if we stay smart and disciplined."

Last week, a Connecticut resident who had been hospitalized in New York City was determined to also have the variant.

Meanwhile, a new vaccination site that was scheduled to open in Queens on Sunday was delayed for the second time. Van Buren High School was set to open in Queens Village, but Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the opening would be delayed again due to the supply shortage because of storms across the country.

De Blasio visited a vaccination site in Red Hook on Sunday to push for more seniors to be prioritized. He said getting the vaccine into as many arms as possible is the big goal for the coming week.

The next vaccine shipment is scheduled to arrive Monday.

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