Scientists probing whether new, more contagious strain of coronavirus from U.K. has reached Los Angeles

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Registered nurse Michelle Goldson works in the intensive care unit at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital on Dec. 17, 2020. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Registered nurse Michelle Goldson works in the intensive care unit at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital on Dec. 17, 2020. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County scientists have begun to test samples of the coronavirus from local patients to determine if a new, potentially more contagious strain that is circulating in Britain has arrived, as some officials believe is likely amid a major surge of infections.

The variant is a concern because it may make the virus easier to be transmitted from one person to another, officials said. But once a person has the virus, the variant doesn’t appear to make the person more likely to die.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said a public health laboratory has begun to do gene sequencing to test virus samples collected in L.A. County, but it will take about a week to finish the process.

COVID-19 has been surging out of control in Los Angeles County and other parts of California, overwhelming hospitals and killing more people each day. On Thursday, L.A. County saw its highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day: 140.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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