A little less than a year ago, the early response to the coronavirus crisis was stifled by an inability to scale up testing to detect the virus and curb its spread. Now, once again, it’s unclear how prevalent the new strain, which first surfaced in the U.K., might be in the U.S. Already a possible and a probable case have been detected in Colorado and one case has been reported in California. But it’s likely the variant’s spread hasn’t stopped there.

“It feels a lot like that time between Jan. 19 or so when we had that first case in the Seattle area and six weeks later, when all of a sudden, it looks like we’ve got community transmission in California and Seattle and who knows where else,” said Michael Worobey, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. “It does have that feeling.”…

“We’re a little behind the eight ball in terms of our genomic sequencing, both in terms of absolute numbers and the sort of delay between sampling and getting the sequences out there, compared to the U.K.,” Worobey said. He warned that if the U.S. doesn’t find the cases and slow spread it will likely see the same kind of rapid dissemination of the variant that the U.K. has seen.