By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Wyoming, the Wyoming Department of Health confirmed to Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.
According to National Public Radio, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said 20.6% of new cases in the U.S. are due to the new “Delta” variant. Other scientists tracking the variant say it is on track become the dominant virus variant in the nation.
Currently, Wyoming has detected 40 cases of the Delta variant in the state, 33 of which are in Laramie County.
“We’ve detected the most instances of the Delta variant in Laramie County, but have also seen cases in Albany County, Fremont County, Sweetwater County, and Natrona County,” Dr. Alexia Harrist told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “It is important to remember that not all samples are sequenced, so this is likely an underrepresentation of the number of Delta variant cases in Wyoming (something that is true for all variants).”
She noted that the variant was determined to be a “variant of concern” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because the data indicates it is more easily transmissible than other COVID strains.
The available COVID vaccines have been shown to be effective against the variant.
“The vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness even with variant infections,” Harris said. “The best way for people to protect themselves against infection and illness with this highly transmissible variant is to get vaccinated against COVID-19.”
There is concern across the U.S. that the variant might cause a moderate surge of COVID infections due to the number of people who are not yet vaccinated, according to NPR.
Projections indicate that infections could start to rise again as soon as July, especially if the vaccination campaign continues to stall.