The COVID-19 delta variant is now the predominant strain of the coronavirus in Delaware, The Division of Public Health said in a Friday press release.
Variants are mutations of the virus, including changes to the spikes on the surface of the virus. Some variants are more transmissible and resilient against traditional health and safety measures, including vaccination.
In random sample testing of cases that are reported positive, 31 delta variants have been reported to date. This is the second week in a row that Delaware saw the number of delta variant cases increase by eight, according to the Division of Public Health.
Because the state is only testing a few of the positive cases, it’s likely that there are many more cases circulating.
The variant is causing large numbers of infections in states where there are large numbers of unvaccinated people.
In Delaware, 71.1% of those eligible have had at least one shot, and 53.9% of the population is fully vaccinated.
To help reach that level, the state ran a DE Wins! contest giving away cash prizes, scholarships, tickets and more for those who got a vaccine. It ended with a $302,000 drawing for which all vaccinated people were eligible.
On Monday, Gov. John Carney and Dr. Karryl Rattay, director of the Division of Public Health, will present the $302,000 check to the as-yet-unnamed winner at 11:15 a.m. at Bardea Food and Drink in Wilmington.
The delta variant is believed to be both much more infectious and more dangerous.
“If you think about a virus like a tree growing and branching out; each branch on the tree is slightly different than the others,” said a CDC statement. “By comparing the branches, scientists can label them according to the differences. These small differences, or variants, have been studied and identified since the beginning of the pandemic.”
The delta variant was first identified in India in late 2020 and detected in the United States in March of 2021.
The variant threatens to slow down the trend toward herd immunity as the unvaccinated face an increased risk of contracting the virus.
Of the 460,420 Delawareans who have been fully vaccinated, 456 have contracted the virus, less than one-tenth of 1 percent.
A total of 110,270 positive cases of COVID-19 among Delaware residents have been reported since March 11, 2020.
The seven-day average of new positive cases increased to 39 as of Thursday, July 15, according to the press release. That’s double the new case rate from three weeks ago when it fell to 20.1, the lowest rate in recent months.
As of Friday, 37 people were hospitalized, up six from last week. Four of the hospitalized persons are critically ill, down two from last week.
Charlie is a staff writer for Delaware LIVE covering Delaware legislative and business news. Previously, Charlie worked for the Delaware State Senate. He was raised in Sussex County before attending Duquesne University in Pittsburgh where he studied political science and philosophy.
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