Gov. Cuomo announces 1st case of South African COVID-19 variant identified in Nassau County resident

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Sunday that the South African variant of coronavirus has been identified in a resident of New York.
He announced that the sequencing, involving a Nassau County resident, was conducted at Opentrons Labworks Inc.'s Pandemic Response Lab, a New York City based commercial lab, and verified at the Wadsworth Center in Albany.
News 12 has learned that a patient from Glen Head was diagnosed with the variant.
Dr. David Hirschwerk, with Northwell Health, says the South African strain could be more contagious than the original.
The good news? Vaccines will likely still work on it -- though maybe not as effectively.
“While it is not going to work as well at neutralizing the South African strain, it very likely will diminish the risk of developing severe covid, even with that South African strain," says Hirschwerk.
At this point it's not clear how the person who tested positive for the South African variant caught it. According to officials at the Nassau Health Department, they had no known travel history.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran is urging residents to stay calm and keep up with COVID-19 safety protocols.
She does acknowledge that the new variant could be spreading in the county.
"It's always concerning and we know community spread is very real. And we know spread usually happens at social gatherings where mask wearing and other protocols aren't happening," she says.
Health officials say the patient with the South African strain was not hospitalized.