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A new variant of the coronavirus originally identified in South Africa has emerged in the United States, posing another public health challenge to a country that is already overwhelmed and losing more than 3,000 people a day to COVID-19.

According to Yahoo News, this mutated version of the virus was found in two cases in South Carolina. Public health officials say it’s almost certain that there are more infections already in the country that have not yet been identified. Health officials are also concerned because this version of the virus spreads more easily, and current vaccines could be much less effective against it.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said that the two cases discovered were in adults in two different regions of the state and do not appear to be related. Neither of those two people infected has traveled recently.

Medical experts are alarmed because it means that there could be many more undetected cases within the state.

The arrival of this variant of the virus shows that “the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, South Carolina’s interim public health director, said in a statement to Yahoo News. “While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still limited. Every one of us must recommit to the fight by recognizing that we are all on the front lines now. We are all in this together,” he said.

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Crime

‘Impossible to trace.’ Tech savvy dad may be holding daughter captive in WA, cops say

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A father accused of kidnapping his teenage daughter 17 months ago could be holding her captive in Washington, but his technology skills are making it hard for authorities to find him, officials say.

Authorities say John Oliver Westbrook kidnapped his daughter, Daphne Westbrook, 17, in October 2019 from Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to a news release posted on Facebook by the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office in Tennessee.

Investigators say Westbrook is holding Daphne against her will and they’re struggling to locate them because he is “an IT expert specializing in security, block chain technology and bitcoin.”

Brooke WolfordFri, March 5, 2021, 5:41 AM