SAN FRANCISCO—Health officials announced in a news release on Sunday, January 17 that the Bay Area discovered a new variant of the coronavirus that caused outbreaks in the state.

Santa Clara County and the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), in coordination with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), announced the news. The variant, called L452R, has been found in counties like Santa Clara County and San Francisco County.

Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer for Santa Clara County, said that the L452R variant identified in “several large outbreaks in our county is a red flag and must be investigated further.”

Aside from Santa Clara County, the variant has been identified in about 11 counties, which include: San Francisco County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Lake County, Los Angeles County, San Luis Obispo County, Humboldt County, Mono County, Riverside County, San Diego County, and Monterey County.

California reached 3 million COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, January 19, two days after health officials announced the discovery of the new variant. That means 1 out of 13 Californians had a positive test during this pandemic.

It also comes one day after Los Angeles County became the first county in America to hit 1 million cases.

California Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted on January 19 that on Thursday, January 21, LA County “will join the 30+ counties across the state that are vaccinating” residents age 65 and older.

According to Newsom, California has “administered more vaccines than any other state” and added we will “continue to ramp up our efforts with the goals of speed, equity, and safety,” in a January 18 tweet.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said that the SF Department of Public Health will run out of vaccines by Thursday, January 21. At present, the city has administered more than 15,000 vaccine doses with more than 2,000 already receiving the second dose.

As of January 18, the CDPH said there was 2,996,968 coronavirus cases and 33,739 fatalities.  Among the cases, more than 1.7 million of them belong in the 18-49 age group. There are more than 29,000 cases in SF along with more than 200 deaths.

California’s regional stay-at-home order, which began December 3, would require a region to be under a stay-at-home order if ICU (Intensive Care Unit) hospitalizations are under 15 percent.

The five regions in CA are: Greater Sacramento, San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area, Northern California, and Southern California.  Currently, three of them are under a stay-at-home order which include: the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California.

The CDPH advises residents to do the following to limit transmission of COVID-19:

  1. When you leave outside your home, wear a mask.
  2. Wash your hands for 20 seconds.
  3. Social distance 6 feet apart.
  4. Stay home unless for essential activities.
  5. Limit interaction with individuals outside your home.
  6. Get the coronavirus vaccine if it is available in your area and you are eligible.