First case of COVID-19 variant identified in Georgia

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ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia officials say they have identified the state's first case of the COVID-19 variant that's been seen in the United Kingdom.

Lab tests found an 18-year-old Georgia man had the variant, the state Department of Health said Tuesday. It said the man had no travel history and was in isolation at his home.

When asked what county the resident lives in, a Georgia public health official said the location of the individual is HIPAA protected.

Cases of the United Kingdom variant have also been reported in Colorado, California, Florida and New York.

"The emergence of this variant in our state should be a wake-up call for all Georgians," Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said in a statement. "Even as we begin roll out of a COVID-19 vaccine, we must not let down our guard and ignore basic prevention measures – wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands frequently."

Preliminary information suggests the variant is significantly more contagious, though there is no evidence so far that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death, state health officials said.