ROANOKE, Va. – As the push to vaccinate more Virginians continues, local health leaders are warning of a new variant of COVID-19 believed to spread more quickly.
The highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant is here in the Commonwealth and health leaders predict it is here to stay for a while.
“I think most of us think it’s a matter of time and just to keep in mind that the Delta variant is more transmissible than the other strains of COVID-19,” Roanoke City and Alleghany Health District Director Dr. Cynthia Morrow said.
While none have been found here in the southern portion of the state, low vaccination rates mean once it is here, it could cause cases to skyrocket.
“It has multiplied quickly here the United States has already had over 40 identified cases for Virginia. For the across the US at the end of May, that Delta variant was 2% of new cases that was more than 10%. I expect that so it’s almost like very quickly, had become the predominant strain here as well,” State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said.
Right now most local health districts in Southwest and Central Virginia only have about 30-40% of their populations fully protected, so the push for vaccination is stronger now than ever.
“That means for people who are not vaccinated is that there will be, you know, an emergent much more contagious version of COVID that will pose a threat and in those communities that have low vaccination rates, spreading over,” Avula said.
Health officials advise that if you still choose to not get the COVID-19 vaccine, the best way to protect yourself from contracting the disease is to be vigilant.
“If you’re not going to get vaccinated continue to wear a mask there is good there there’s still circulating disease, and while if you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need to wear masks in those settings. If you have not been vaccinated, we really encourage you to do that,” Avula said.
Some local health districts are planning to continue their vaccination efforts for the next two to three years,