New York has its first case of a contagious coronavirus variant first found in Brazil, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a statement Saturday.
The patient with the P.1 variant was identified at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, the governor's office said. The patient is a Brooklyn woman in her 90s "with no travel history," according to the statement.
Her potential local contacts were being tracked, according to Cuomo.
"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."
Health officials maintained hope that vaccination would halt variants of the virus.
"This is a race between the vaccine and the variants, and we continue to make tremendous progress of getting shots in the arms of eligible New Yorkers," New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in the governor's announcement.
"In the meantime," he said, "we remind New Yorkers to do everything they can to protect themselves and their neighbors as we continue to manage this pandemic."
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The Brazilian variant is among a number of rapidly-evolving versions of the virus that are causing concerns for health officials. They're also tracking the B.1.526 strain in New York, the B.1.1.7 U.K. variant, the B.1.351 strain from South Africa and the California variant called B.1.427/B.1.429.
The Brazilian variant was first detected in the United States in late January. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called it one of the "variants of concern" because it has potential for increased transmission and harsher symptoms.
Josh Cradduck contributed.