NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)New York’s first case of the South African coronavirus variant has been discovered on Long Island, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.

The South African variant case involved a resident of Nassau County, Cuomo said in a news release.

READ MORE: COVID In New York: Dutchess County Reports Case Of Variant First Discovered In UK, Over 130 Cases Identified Across State

The sequencing 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.

A Connecticut resident who had been hospitalized in New York City was found to have the South African variant last week.

The mutated version of the virus, originally identified in South Africa, was first found in the United States last month. Scientists believe it is more easily spread than other virus strains.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Cuomo said the variant’s arrival in New York means that COVID-19 safety measures like wearing masks and maintaining distance from other people are more important than ever.

READ MORE: ‘Make It A Double’; New Guidance Urges New Yorkers To Wear Two Layers Of Masks

“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,” he said.

COVID VACCINE

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement, “We don’t believe the South African variant is more deadly, but it may be more contagious. The best response is to continue the tried and true precautions: wearing masks, avoiding social gatherings, distancing, staying home and getting tested when sick.”

The state’s latest COVID-19 numbers, meanwhile show a continued downward trend in hospitalizations and deaths following the holiday season spike.

There were fewer than 5,800 patients hospitalized with the virus on Saturday, a decline of more than 800 from a week earlier.

The state recorded 75 COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, the first time since Dec. 16 that the daily death toll was under 100.

MORE NEWS: COVID Positivity Rates In New York Drop, New Vaccination Sites Continue To Open

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CBSNewYork Team