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Brazilian variant of COVID-19 discovered in NY patient

Health officials encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and can book an appointment.

ALBANY, N.Y. — Health officials say the Brazilian variant of the COVID-19 virus is now in New York State. 

New York Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker also discussed a new concern about the Brazilian variant in New York State. They say a patient in their 90s, with no report of travel, was recently diagnosed with this variant of COVID-19.  It was first discovered by scientists at Mount Sinai in New York City and verified by health officials at the state's central laboratory. 

There are 54 cases in 18 states across the country. 

Health officials encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and can book an appointment.

Earlier in the day, Governor Cuomo announced COVID-19 vaccines would become available to anyone 50-years-old or older starting March 23.

He also called on religious centers and faith communities to become hosts for COVID-19 vaccination centers. 

The state is calling this effort the "Roll Up Your Sleeve" campaign and hopes that hosting vaccinations in religious centers will help with the infrastructure needed to distribute the vaccine, and the public's willingness to receive it.