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Is there a new highly contagious COVID variant in the US?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three days after a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting where Dr. Deborah Birx spoke about a growing number of coronavirus cases around the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it found no evidence to indicate that a United States homegrown variant is to blame.

The CDC made this announcement after an erroneous report surfaced following the White House Coronavirus Task Force members’ weekly report, where Birx wrote:

“This fall/winter surge has been at nearly twice the rate of rise of cases as the spring and summer surges. This acceleration suggests there may be a USA variant that has evolved here in addition to the UK variant that is already spreading in our communities.”

CDC officials say Birx’s statement was speculative and so does Dr. Jonathon Kantor, a Jacksonville epidemiologist.

″I think it’s far too early to know, and I don’t think we have nearly enough data to make that judgement call,” Kantor said. “What I would hinge my opinion on right now is what the CDC came out with and the CDC statement.”

Kantor says it’s important to put Birx’s statements into context, pointing out that viruses are constantly mutating. Kantor says hypothesizing on unproven theories before they are backed by science can erode the public’s trust.

“What we have to have right now is to have public faith in a vaccine. Keep in mind, this is a vaccine your doctors are getting, this is a vaccine your nurses are getting and there is a reason why your doctors and nurses are in line to get the vaccine,” Kantor said.

The variant that is circulating in the United States is called the B.1.1.7 variant, which was identified first in the U.K.

But to the claim of a highly contagious U.S. variant, the News4Jax Trust Index Team grades this as “Not True.”

Not True

After review, we've found this information is Not True.

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