As a new strain of COVID-19 continues to spread in southern England, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday called on the federal government to take action to prevent it from reaching the United States.

The governor delivered his remarks from quarantine, after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

Newsom noted that there is no evidence that the new strain has reached California, but that the U.S. government should take action to make sure it doesn’t.

“I hope the federal government takes action in this space. They should. We’ve seen Canada, we’ve seen so many other jurisdictions around the world that have,” Newsom said. “In the absence of that, we’ll be pursuing different strategies on testing and quarantine and those have been activated in terms of those conversations. As soon as I have more information, I’ll share that information with you.”

Many nations have implemented a ban on travel from Britain as a result of the spread of the new mutation of the coronavirus, though the United States is not one of them.

Newsom said that the California SARS-CoV-2 Whole Genome Sequencing initiative “is constantly monitoring, very active, very proactive,” in monitoring state COVID-19 cases for signs of mutation.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said that although the new virus doesn’t appear to be any deadlier, it does appear that people are more likely to become infected if they come into contact with it.

“And that is why we’re worried,” Ghaly said.

Ghaly said California does, “on a daily basis, check thousands of specimens to see if the genetic code of the virius is changing at all.”

“So we are watching closely for this specific mutation,” he said. “Frankly, we’re concerned because of the unknowns. We’re concerned that we aren’t sure how this impacts the broadscale efforts to contain and mitigate the virus as it exists now.”

Ghaly said that California is working with partners across the state, and around the nation, to make sure that the state is able to react quickly in the event that the mutation makes it across the Atlantic and to the Golden State.

The new strain has been identified so far in Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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