Marylander Died of New COVID-19 Brazil Variant, Hogan Says

A Marylander who died after returning from traveling abroad has been confirmed to have had the  state’s first case of the P.1. COVID-19 variant.

Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement on Wednesday confirming a case of the P.1 variant, originally detected in Brazil, has been found in Maryland. Maryland Department of Health  confirmed the case in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The person who had the Brazil variant was adult over the age of 65 from the National Capital Region, according to the governor’s office. The state says contact tracing is underway to make sure that possible contacts are identified, tested, and quarantined.

“State public health officials are closely monitoring the P.1 variant, and we mourn the loss of this Marylander to COVID-19,” said Hogan said in a statement. “As we continue to test for these variants, we strongly encourage Marylanders to continue taking precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, including mask wearing, regular hand washing, and physical distancing.”

The Brazil variant was originally detected in the United States in January. Maryland is the third state confirmed to have detected the variant – Minnesota and California were the first two.

Scientists are still learning about the P.1 variant and about how effective current coronavirus vaccines are in fighting it. It is expected that current coronavirus tests are able to detect the P.1 variant.

According to the governor’s office, “The variant is believed to be more transmissible than the initial strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, but it is not currently known whether the P.1 variant causes more severe disease than other common variants.”

This is the third variant of COVID-19 detected in Maryland. Maryland has also detected the UK variant (B.1.1.7) as well as the South Africa variant (B.1.351).

The governor’s office says, “While the case announced today was identified in an individual with a history of travel, many cases of variants of concern have not been connected with travel. These non-travel-related cases indicate that community transmission of other variants of concern may be occurring and reinforce the need for public health precautions.”

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