State begins testing for COVID-19 variant found in UK

State begins testing for COVID-19 variant found in UK
New York coronavirus (Source: MGN)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - State health officials are going on an aggressive hunt for any sign that the COVID-19 variant found in the United Kingdom has made it to New York.

At a telephone conference Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there’s no evidence that the variant – which is 70 percent more infectious than the original – is in the state.

Hospitals across the state are testing for the new variant. Cuomo said after 4,000 tests, there has been no sign of it.

“If it is here, I want to know exactly where it is and contact trace immediately from that point back and then isolate it immediately,” he said. “This is about time and urgency.”

That’s why, he said, “we’re mobilizing every hospital lab in the state that can perform this test to perform this test.”

On the vaccine front, the governor said the state has done 50,000 vaccinations as of Tuesday.

“We are very aggressive about our vaccination program,” he said.

The state has received 630,000 doses so far and expected about 300,000 more by the end of next week.

He said he expects residents and staff of more than 600 nursing homes to be vaccinated within about two weeks and he’s asking people who are providing vaccines to work through the holidays.

“A vaccine is the best gift that you could give a nursing home resident,” he said. The best give that you could give a frontline health care worker is a vaccine, so let’s give them that gift over this holiday season.”

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