'Disturbing': More than 1/3 of recent Philadelphia COVID-19 cases caused by virus variants, officials say

Officials say variants of COVID-19 are making up a good portion of the more recently reported cases in Philadelphia.

Officials say so far, the Philadelphia area is seeing increased proportions of the UK, California, and New York variants. The Brazil and South African variants have not been observed in the region as of Monday. 

"That's disturbing because as you know the rate of new infection were going down," said Frederic Bushman, a Chairman of Microbiology from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "We're very worried about what explains this upward tick in infections we're seeing -- how much of that is the new variants." 

Bushman’s microbiology lab at the University of Pennsylvania is one of the few testing for COVID-19 variants.

Currently, Bushman's team is noticing a plateau but notes that research lags behind by a couple of weeks so it's possible we could see a surge. 

"Keep up everything we can do," Bushman urges about keeping the pressure against COVID-19 up. 

He explains that the vaccine is "still a huge help" in working against the COVID-19 variants. 

Bushman also reminded the public that wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand-washing are important tactics to keep up the fight against the coronavirus. 



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