Virus variant from South Africa detected in US for 1st time

FILE - This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. Viruses are constantly mutating, with coronavirus variants circulating around the globe. (NIAID-RML via AP)

People line up for a vaccination at the Earle Brown Heritage Center, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. Minnesota on Thursday opened up nine locations for coronavirus vaccinations as part of a pilot program reserved for people 65 and over. Demand for the program was exceptionally heavy, with slots for the few available doses quickly filling after registration opened two days earlier. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

FILE - In this Jan. 17, 2021, file photo, a passerby wearing a protective mask is reflected in the window of an empty restaurant near Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh. Irritated by the sweeping use of executive orders during the COVID-19 crisis, state lawmakers around the U.S. are moving to curb the authority of governors and top health officials to impose emergency restrictions such as mask rules and business shutdowns. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A new coronavirus variant identified in South Africa has been found in the United States for the first time, with two cases diagnosed in South Carolina, state health officials said Thursday.