WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Delta COVID-19 variant, a strain of the virus that’s spread more easily, is in Williamson County.
The Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD) confirmed Friday that testing identified three cases of the Delta variant, the first ones officially reported in the Austin area.
“It is not surprising to see the Delta variant in our community given how rapidly it spreads,” said WCCHD Lead Epidemiologist Allison Stewart in a statement. “The good news is that the mRNA vaccines have been proven to be highly effective against this variant. The concern locally is that we have more than half the county that isn’t vaccinated and whom are still highly susceptible to this variant.”
Delta is a version of the coronavirus that has been found in more than 80 countries since it was first detected in India. It got its name from the World Health Organization, which names notable variants after letters of the Greek alphabet. Officials say it’s approximately 60% more transmissible than variant B.1.1.7 found in the United Kingdom in late 2020.
WCCHD noted that the current scientific evidence states the variant may be associated with an increased risk of hospitalization, but mRNA vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer are still highly effective against it.
Earlier this week, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported only 25 cases of the variant in Texas. It is thought to be responsible for only a small proportion of the current COVID-19 cases in Texas and the United States, but the proportion of cases is growing quickly and is estimated to be the dominant strain in the U.S. as early as August.
Dr. Rodney Young with Texas Tech Physicians told KXAN’s Maggie Glynn that because it’s easier to transmit, it could potentially become the dominant strain of the virus in “weeks.”
On Tuesday, Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes told Travis County Commissioners there were no known Delta variant cases in the county. KXAN has reached out to confirm that is still the case.
Author: Will DuPree
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin