ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Doctors at Rochester Regional Health say they are seeing an alarming new trend with COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. They are seeing an uptick in case counts, and that variants are a concern.

Infectious disease experts at RRH believe the variant could be why there's a trend of younger people getting sick from the virus. The highest number of cases are in people in their 20s and 30s.

Dr. Emil Lesho said it is predominantly the variant originally discovered in the U.K. as well as a new one coming out of California. 

He also said that the hospital routinely sends COVID-19 samples to labs for genome sequencing to see what these cases are, and in the recent pool, 60% were positive for the variant discovered in the U.K.

Lesho said this is the first time they've seen the increase in the local area.

"The CDC had expected this variant to predominate but this is to my knowledge the first that we have molecular confirmation of such a notable increase," said Lesho.

 He says the vaccine can help stop the spread or creation of new COVID-19 variants.

"The way we prevent those variants from emerging is by having as many people immunized either through natural infection or the vaccine so that you provide the virus an opportunity to reproduce itself. When it's reproducing itself in our bodies and other people's bodies, that's when these mutations arrive," Lesho said.

Officials say before this increase, they only saw two instances of the variant.