- Associated Press - Friday, January 1, 2021

BALTIMORE (AP) - The Maryland Department of Health is working with regional and federal partners to test patient samples for infection with the new variant of the coronavirus.

The Baltimore Sun reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are collaborating with the state’s public health lab, as well as state laboratories in California and Delaware to test for the apparently more contagious variant.

There have been at least two cases of the COVID-19 variant identified in the U.S., one in California and another in Colorado.

A Maryland health department spokesman says the variant has not been detected in Maryland.

The CDC says medical professionals do not now believe that the new variant is more deadly than existing ones or that it will not respond to vaccines. But it could much more contagious and make the pandemic even harder to contain.

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