Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed a new strain of coronavirus was found in New York, but also gave New Yorkers some good news.

On Sunday, Cuomo confirmed the first case of the South African variant has been identified in a resident of New York State. 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, officials say.

"With the discovery of a case of the South African variant in the state, it's more important than ever for New Yorkers to stay vigilant, wear masks, wash hands and stay socially distanced. We are in a race right now — between our ability to vaccinate and these variants which are actively trying to proliferate — and we will only win that race if we stay smart and disciplined," Cuomo said.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said the case is in Glen Head. Health officials say the South African variant is more contagious but doesn't appear to be more deadly. Last week, a Connecticut resident who was hospitalized in New York City was found to have the South African variant.

Over the weekend, Dutchess County officials confirmed a Dutchess County resident tested positive for the UK variant of COVID-19, marking the first case of the variant in the county.

"With confirmed cases of the variant in neighboring counties, it was expected we see cases in Dutchess County. This is an important reminder that, despite the lowering positivity rate and vaccinations underway, the fight against COVID is not yet over," Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro stated.

Also on Sunday, Cuomo announced the statewide COVID-19 positivity rate, now at 2.99 percent, dropped below 3 percent for the first time since November 23.

"We continue to see a reduction in positivity and hospitalizations throughout the state, which is good news, and this progress is allowing us to reopen the valve on our economy even further," Cuomo said.

 

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