As COVID-19 infections surge out of control in Los Angeles County, officials are now investigating the potential spread of a new, more contagious strain

Michelle Goldson, RN, works in the intensive care unit at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles on December 17, 2020. Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Los Angeles County is currently testing for a new and more communicable strain of the coronavirus, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The county has seen massive increases in some cases in recent weeks.
The new strain was first discovered in Great Britain. Experts said there was no evidence that the new strain could cause any more serious illness.
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As coronavirus cases increase in Los Angeles County, officials are now working to test samples for the new and more communicable strain of coronavirus, the Los Angeles Times reported.
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As of Thursday, the county recorded over 13,600 new cases and set a record for new deaths with 148 confirmed deaths.
A new strain of the coronavirus was discovered in the UK earlier this week.
The new strain could be up to 70% more transmissible, said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have said that it is likely that the new tribe is already in the US.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it was here," Fauci said in an interview with PBS NewsHour. "If we start looking for it, we'll find it."
However, some experts said there was no evidence that the new strain caused any more serious illness or was more deadly.
LA County's director of public health Barbara Ferrer said a lab has started gene sequencing to test virus samples, but the results won't be available for about a week.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said the new variant could help explain why the virus is spreading so widely. Many public health experts and officials have said the spread is partly due to families who defy public health guidelines meet on vacation.
"It happened very quickly," Garcetti told the Times. "Everyone I spoke to said that this acceleration exceeded every model and expectation. Then people say, 'What broke down?' and I have to think it's partly the strain that was out there. "
The Times also reported that the LA County Public Health Department sent a memo to aks labs Thursday to review the latest data from positive coronavirus tests and look for a specific pattern of gene detection.
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that travelers flying to the US from the UK must have a negative COVID-19 test within three days of their flight. They stopped shortly before an outright travel ban, as some other countries have done.
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