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NORTHEAST ALABAMA – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the most common COVID-19 variant in the United States was first identified in the United Kingdom.

Alabama health officials told News 19 it’s been found in the Yellowhammer state.

State health officer Dr. Scott Harris said they have identified less than 200 total coronavirus variants since the pandemic began. All but around a dozen of them are the B.1.1.7. strain, also known as the U.K. variant.

He told News 19 that national and international reports show it is more transmissible and is especially infectious among young Americans.

“Even though we definitely have had cases, pediatric cases, and younger adult cases of the U.K. variant cases, we have not identified any different clinical outcomes yet,” explained Harris.

However, he said they do recognize the UK variant spreads easier in general, which is a big concern as more students return to school from spring break with no masks required in many districts.

Harris told News 19 that despite the mask mandate being lifted April 9, 2021, and schools adjusting their mask rules, the ADPH’s guidance remains the same: wear masks and social distance six feet apart when possible especially those who are immunocompromised or have chronic health issues.

“Even though there is new guidance saying being seated within three feet apart is acceptable, but still six feet is preferred, and the guidance from the CDC about being seated within three feet is assuming that universal masking is involved,” Harris added.

He said Alabama is still seeing hundreds of new COVID-19 cases a day and deaths almost While those numbers are better than they were three months ago, Harris told News 19 that we’re still not out of the woods yet.