By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Florida has nearly half the known cases in the United States of a mutated and likely more contagious strain of the coronavirus.

That’s according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control.

A CDC map shows that Florida has 22 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant that emerged in Britain. It showed other cases in California, which has reported 26 cases, Colorado which has 3, and New York and Georgia have each reported one case.

Statistics from the Florida Department of Health showed Thursday’s total of new coronavirus cases — 19,816 — surpassed the previous record set the day before when 17,783 cases were reported.

Florida’s death toll from the virus also keeps climbing, reaching 22,400 on Thursday.

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Since the pandemic started in March, about 1.4 million people in Florida have contracted COVID. Early Friday, 7,329 people in Florida were hospitalized with the virus.

People over age 65 and eager for the COVID-19 vaccine have swamped online registration sites in some counties across Florida.

Florida followed federal recommendations in starting vaccinations first for front-line medical workers plus residents and staff of nursing homes in mid-December. But instead of putting essential workers and people over 75 next in line, as federal recommendations suggested, or fully completing the first group of recipients, Gov. Ron DeSantis moved in late December to open up vaccinations more broadly for people 65 and over.

So far, more than 329,000 people, or about 1.5 percent of the state’s population, have received a COVID vaccine in Florida.

“As hospitals have gotten through their workers, what you’re now seeing is hospitals being more aggressive to our senior citizens. That’s our top priority at this point,” DeSantis said during a news conference on Thursday.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.) Team