The U.S. has again hit a record high for coronavirus deaths. More than 4,300 Americans died from the virus on Tuesday. While the pace of vaccinations is picking up, withdelivered Tuesday, a possible new coronavirus strain has appeared in Ohio.
Researchers at Ohio State University discovered a new variant that carries a mutation identical to the strain found in the U.K., but was likely already present in the U.S. The has been detected in 11 states.
Researchers said they also found another U.S. strain with three other gene mutations that were not previously seen. The strain with three new mutations was more prominent in Columbus in recent weeks, they said.
“Also, like the U.K. strain, the mutations in the Columbus strain are likely to make the virus more infectious, making it easier for the virus to pass from person to person,” the university said in a news release on Wednesday.
Peter Mohler, a co-author of the study, said there is no evidence showing that the coronavirus vaccines will be less effective against the new mutations.
“At this point, we have no data to believe that these mutations will have any impact on the effectiveness of vaccines now in use,” Mohler said.
Arizona leads the nation in per capita COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The home of the Arizona Cardinals, State Farm Stadium in Glendale, is now a mass vaccination site for health care workers, first responders, teachers and child care workers.
The Arizona Department of Health Services is prepared to give at least 600 shots a day and the stadium will be open around the clock for at least the next two months.
The race to vaccinate is taking on added urgency with California having more than 30,000 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.
“In my 34 years, I never thought I would see anything like this,” said Ken McKenzie, who runs a funeral home in Southern California. This time last year “there would probably be two or three people that I’d be caring for,” he said. “Right now, there’s probably 40 or 50 embalmed bodies here with families waiting to have closure.”