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New COVID-19 Strain Confirmed In LA County; Cases Top 1 Million

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(Courtesy LAC+USC Medical Center)
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More than a million people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, public health officials said Saturday, the same day they announced the first confirmed local case from a new variant that was first discovered in the United Kingdom.

The new strain — B.1.1.7 — has an "unusually large number of mutations," according to the county's public health department. It is more contagious than the strain that first emerged in California last January, though there's still no evidence that the illness it causes is any more severe.

The person who tested positive for the new strain traveled to Oregon and is currently isolating there, according to the health department.

County public health director Barbara Ferrer called on residents to do everything they can to protect themselves and each other by adhering to safety guidelines, including wearing a mask in public and staying clear of people who aren't part of the same household.

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"The presence of the U.K. variant in Los Angeles County is troubling, as our healthcare system is already severely strained with more than 7,500 people currently hospitalized. Our community is bearing the brunt of the winter surge, experiencing huge numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, five-times what we experienced over the summer. This more contagious variant makes it easier for infections to spread at worksites, at stores, and in our homes.

Though only a single case has been confirmed, health officials said they believe the virus is already spreading within the community.

Here's a snapshot of today's numbers:

  • 14,669 new cases
  • 1,003,923 total cases
  • 253 new deaths
  • 13,741 total deaths

It's likely far more people have been infected than what these totals show. A new estimate released Friday found as as much as a third of the county's 10 million residents have been infected at some point.

OVERALL LOOK AT THE NUMBERS:

Here's a look at longer-term trends. To see more, visit our California COVID-19 Tracker and choose California or any county in the state that interests you. These numbers may be delayed by a day:

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