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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

First NC Case Of New COVID-19 Strain Identified In Mecklenburg County Adult

COVID-19 test

North Carolina has identified its first case of a new, more contagious variant of COVID-19 in a test sample from an adult in Mecklenburg County.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said Saturday that the test sample was processed by Mako Medical Laboratories, but no further information was released to protect privacy of the individual.

Thus far, 195 cases of the new variant -- which is estimated to be 50% more contagious than previous strains -- have been reported in 21 states, according to NCDHHS.

“While expected, identification of this COVID-19 variant in North Carolina is concerning, especially at the same time as we are already seeing very high numbers of cases,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen in a statement. “It is more important than ever to practice the 3Ws.”

Nearly three weeks ago, Dr. Katie Passaretti, an infectious disease physician at Charlotte-based Atrium Health, said she expected the new variant would appear in the state.

“We will see it in the state. It’s not so much a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of ‘when,’” she said.

On Saturday, 7,181 new coronavirus cases were reported in North Carolina. Daily cases reported have decreased from a high of 11,581 on Jan. 9, but remain elevated in recent weeks. The test positivity rate Saturday was 10.9%, down from a high of 17.8% on Jan. 6.

In the past week, 570 new deaths in the state have been attributed to COVID-19, including the last three straight days of more than 100 deaths.

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Jodie Valade has been a Digital News and Engagement Editor for WFAE since 2019. Since moving to Charlotte in 2015, she has worked as a digital content producer for NASCAR.com and a freelance writer for publications ranging from Charlotte magazine to The Athletic to The Washington Post and New York Times. Before that, Jodie was an award-winning sports features and enterprise reporter at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. She also worked at The Dallas Morning News covering the Dallas Mavericks — where she became Mark Cuban's lifelong email pen pal — and at The Kansas City Star. She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Education from John Carroll University. She is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan.