OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Delta variant of COVID-19 was first detected in India and has now, as of Monday, made its way to Douglas County.
According to the Douglas County Health Department, a woman in her 40s was confirmed with the variant. They are still investigating to learn if she had been vaccinated, but it was confirmed she had not traveled.
Health officials say they're surprised it took this long for the variant to get to Douglas County, in particular because of the transmissibility rate, which is about 40-50% more than that of the original COVID-19 infection.
"This is of concern to people who have chosen not to be vaccinated. This variant is going to be more readily transmissible to find those people that have not been protected through the vaccine. It’s one more reason why folks, if they haven’t been vaccinated, really should be making that decision to be vaccinated at the present time before that variant emerges more greatly here in our community," said Dr. Mark Rupp, Professor and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Nebraska Medical Center.
Vaccines do protect against COVID-19 variants. Doctors say getting vaccinated doesn't mean you won't get the virus, but it won't be as easily transmitted.
"Any type of COVID-19 variant including the delta variant, it’s definitely more serious for people who haven’t been vaccinated. People who have been vaccinated there’s a small possibility they may get one even the delta infectious but it’ll be the milder version," said Dr. Renuga Vivakanandan, infectious disease physician at CHI.
The delta variant is likely to cause a surge in cases once again, but Dr. Rupp says it won't be as severe as the surge last fall.
"We’re in a good place right now with fairly low numbers of cases that are being described, a low positive percent that we’re seeing in the tests that are being run so we’re starting in a good place. If we can continue to increase vaccination we’ll obviously decrease the risk of the variant," Dr. Rupp said. "I think we will see some bump in cases related to people relaxing their precautions, not masking, having some mass events in the community where we’re bringing in people from all over the country into settings where they’re pretty closely crowded together and then again the pockets of folks who are not getting vaccinated. All those things are going to combine to have some upswing in cases."
Doctors say getting vaccinated is the best way to protect from the delta variant.
Watch the CHI Health Q&A session from Tuesday afternoon below or on our Facebook page.