First known US case of new COVID-19 variant reported

Health officials confirmed a man in his 20s with no travel history is in isolation in Colorado; meanwhile, hospitals in Southern California are at a breaking point.
3:58 | 12/30/20

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Transcript for First known US case of new COVID-19 variant reported
on the coronavirus. Word coming inee today, the first reported case of that highly contagious covid-19 variant first detected in the uk then spreading to other countries, has now been found in the U.S. The variant confirmed I Colorado. The patient in isolation. Some doctors have said it may be far more contagious. Health 0 firms trying to trace how it got here. This as hospitalizations reach a new high across the country. More than 121,000 covid patients. Most hospitals in Los Angeles county running out of space and worried about getting oxygen to others. And as we come on the air tonight, the U.S. Reporting more than 337,000 Americans lives lost. President-Elect Joe Biden today warning the next few weeks and months may be the toughest the country has faced since the start of the pandemic. Heading into the new year, Dr. Anthony Fauci sounding the alarm, as well, saying the virus is, quote, out of control and warning January may be worse than December, which is now the deadliest month of the pandemic. ABC's Kaylee Hartung is in California to lead us off. Reporter: Tonight, Colorado reporting the first known U.S. Case of that gnaw variant of the virus, which officials say could be up to 70% more contagious. The man, in his 20s, with no travel history and recovering in isolation, according to health officials. But new research finding the new strain isn't more deadly and experts believe the vaccine will likely be effective against it. I do think that the current vaccine does work against the variants we've identified. Reporter: This comes as southern California hospitals hit a breaking point. Icus pushed to capacity. And at memorial hospital of garden, they're running out of oxygen, critical for helping covid patients to breathe. In just a matter of days, Los Angeles county alone is expected to surpass 10,000 deaths related to covid-19. The county has seen a 600% increase in average daily deaths since November. We certainly know socal hospitals are in crisis. Reporter: Nurse manager Jennie Franck says her icu nurses are stretched thin. We miss our families, our pets, and want to be with loved ones, too. Reporter: But every day here, you're needed, day and night. Day and night. Reporter: Across the country more than 121,000 people are fighting for their lives in the hospital tonight, the most on record. It's just a question of we're in such a surge, we have gotten out of control. Reporter: As the CDC urges Americans to celebrate the new year by staying home, two churches in Albuquerque, New Mexico both facing $10,000 fines. The state saying their massive, mostly unmasked Christmas eve services violated "Both the state public health order and common sense." Calvary church posting these images to social media, sparking backlash from health care workers and families. The church saying in a statement that, "If a person refused to wear a mask, we assumed they had a preexisting health condition or other restriction that prohibited them from doing so. We believe that people can be responsible adults and make their own choices." But today at Holyoke soldiers' home in Massachusetts, where 76 veterans died of covid last spring, and two staffers face charges of negligence, a sign of hope. 78-year-old air force vet Robert Aucoin, today the first resident there to receive the vaccine. The moment met with applause. How do you feel? Great! Great! We love seeing those pictures. So many in urgent need of the vaccine. Kaylee Hartung is live from los Angeles county, from one of those hospitals deeming with the surge. Kaylee, I want to go back to the uk variant just found in California. We know it's more contagious and you have new reporting on the patient? Reporter: Yeah, Tom. Public health officials are conducting a thorough investigation. They say the man isn't known to have any close co but through contact tracing, they're looking to identify more potential cases. And the CDC is saying tonight that in the coming days, they do expect to detect more. Kaylee Hartung with that breaking news tonight. Kaylee, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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