UK COVID-19 variant detected in Southern California: Gov. Newsom

Health officials confirmed a new coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom has been detected in Southern California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday. 

The announcement came during a virtual discussion with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

The California governor said he became aware of the confirmed case about an hour before the virtual meeting. 

It was later confirmed by authorities that the new strain was detected in San Diego County. 

As COVID-19 case numbers continue to soar statewide, Dr. Fauci said he was not surprised to learn the new variant was detected in the Golden State. 

"Well governor, I’m not surprised you have a case and likely more cases in California, and we likely will be seeing reports from other states," Dr. Fauci said. "Colorado was the first to do that and I think you’re going to start seeing it because if you have that much of a prominence of this in the UK with all the travel not only directly to the United States, but through other countries intermittently…so, I don’t think this is something Californians should think of as something odd. This is something that’s expected."

This comes as another blow for millions of California residents who indefinitely remain under strict lockdown orders. State health officials announced on Tuesday a regional stay-at-home order will remain in effect for Southern and Central California into the new year. 

SANTA MONICA, CA - DECEMBER 29, 2020 - People visit the Santa Monica Pier shortly after it was announced that regional stay-at-home order had been extended indefinitely for Southern California by California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mar

RELATED: State health officials extend SoCal stay-at-home order into 2021

Also on Tuesday, the first known case of the new strain in the United States was detected in Colorado, health officials said. 

RELATED: First known US case of UK COVID-19 variant confirmed in Colorado

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The Colorado and California cases have triggered a host of questions about how the variant circulating in England arrived in the U.S. and whether it is too late to stop it now, with top experts saying it is probably already spreading elsewhere in the United States.

The confirmed case in Colorado is a National Guardsman in his 20s who hadn’t been traveling, officials said. He has mild symptoms and is isolating at his home near Denver, while another Guard member has a suspected case. They had been sent last week to a nursing home struggling with an outbreak.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.