TRENTON – A variant of COVID-19 found to be more transmissible is now the most dominant strain in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], and is found in every county in New Jersey.  

During a White House briefing on the state of the pandemic Wednesday morning, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that the B117 variant, originally identified in the United Kingdom the end of last year and linked to a winter surge in cases in that country, “is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States.”

The New Jersey Department of Health reported 827 variants of concern in the state. The most common, the B117 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, is the most prevalent with  806 identified cases throughout all counties in the state. There are also nine reports of the P1 variant, first identified in Brazil, two reports of the B1.351 variant, first identified in South Africa and 10 reports of the B1.427 and B1.429. 

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Variants of concern identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been found to increase the transmissibility of COVID-19. Currently, the state is currently tracking two percent of the known variant cases in the state, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health Judith Persichilli said on Wednesday. By next week, she hopes that will increase to five percent. 

“As these numbers show, we must make the assumption particularly that the UK variant is throughout our state and in high numbers,” she said.

Gov. Murphy also commented on the prevalence of the variants not only in the state but also throughout the United States.  

“The CDC director said this morning the UK variant is now the dominant strain in America and we have no reason to believe that isn’t the case here,” he said. 

The announcement from the CDC comes as New Jersey is one of five states that make up half of the nation’s new covid cases. The state also ranks third in hospitalizations, per 100,000 residents, and seventh in death, per 100,000, Commissioner Persichilli said. 

Nearly 2 million individuals are fully vaccinated, with the state reporting that 1.89 million have received either their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. So far, 4.8 million have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

The state recorded 3,578 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total since March to 823,179. The statewide rate of transmission, the average number of persons infected by someone who tested positive for the virus, is 1.04, a slight decrease over the last week. 

Total hospitalizations in New Jersey remain stable at 2,375, with 455 patients in intensive care and 249 ventilators in use. Another 45 deaths were reported on Wednesday, bringing the death toll since March to 22,176. Not included in that total are the 2,573 probable deaths the state believes to be linked to the virus. 

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