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New York reports first case of Brazilian COVID-19 variant

New York reported its first case of the P.1 COVID-19 variant first discovered in Brazil as the United States continues efforts to distribute and administer vaccines for the virus. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York reported its first case of the P.1 COVID-19 variant first discovered in Brazil as the United States continues efforts to distribute and administer vaccines for the virus. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 21 (UPI) -- New York reported its first case of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in Brazil as the United States seeks to continue its vaccine rollout.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced a case of the P.1 variant was discovered by scientists at Mount Sinai hospital in New York City in a 90-year-old Brooklyn resident with no travel history.

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"The detection of the Brazilian variant here in New York further underscores the importance of taking all the appropriate steps to continue to protect your health," Cuomo said. "While it's normal for a virus to mutate, the best way to protect yourself is to continue to wear a well-fitted mask, avoid large crowds, social distance, wash your hands and get vaccinated when it's your turn."

As of March 18, there were 48 cases of the P.1 variant in 15 states and territories throughout the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other prominent variants include B.1.1.7, which was first discovered in Britain, and has been identified in 5,567 cases in 50 states and territories and B.1.351 -- first discovered in South Africa -- with 180 cases in 26 jurisdictions.

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Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN it is currently a "neck and neck" race between spreading variants and vaccination efforts in the United States.

"This is crunch time," said Hotez. "This is going to be our most difficult period right now in terms of seeing who wins out."

The United States has administered 124,481,412 COVID-19 vaccine doses, with 24.5% of the population having received at least one dose, while 13.3% are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

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The U.S. death toll grew to 542,302 so far Saturday, including 783 Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins tracking. And cases were 29,812,343 with 55,285 more.

California continues to lead the nation in cases and deaths adding 3,350 cases and 46 deaths on Sunday to bring its totals to 3,545,278 infections and 56,118 deaths. The state has administered 14,520,575 doses with 5,130,943 people fully vaccinated.

Second-ranked Texas reported 1,677 new cases to bring its total to 2,366,494 while adding 59 deaths as its death toll rose to 46,413, while administering 9,204,921 vaccine doses with 3,148,130 people fully vaccinated.

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Florida ranks third with 1,971,271 cases and 32,742 resident deaths after reporting 3,987 infections and 29 resident deaths on Sunday. Florida has administered 4,911,786 vaccines and fully vaccinated 2,713,248 people.

The City of Miami Beach declared an emergency on Saturday night as police attempted to enforce an 8 p.m. curfew to curb spring break gatherings. Pepper balls were fired into the crowd and at least a dozen people were arrested.

"At night there is no question that it became a little out of control or a lot out of control," Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said.

On Sunday night, Miami Beach Police said they had made more than 50 arrests and confiscated eight firearms since Friday.

The 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and overnight closures of causeways, will be in place until Monday morning while the state of emergency was extend on Sunday until April 13.

New York ranks fourth in cases reporting 7,938 on Sunday along with 54 deaths to bring its totals to 1,781,316 positives and 49,401 deaths. The state has administered 7,633,805 doses and 2,654,134 people are fully vaccinated.

Illinois ranks fifth with 1,221,863 positives after it reported 1,431 new cases on Sunday along with 22 deaths, bringing its toll to 21,081. Illinois has administered 4,706,502 doses with 1,755,107 people fully vaccinated.

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