Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Delta Variant Found in Area as COVID-19 Cases Rise
Karen Saks went the extra mile, making up while volunteering at last week’s Higher Ground. All the dinner servers wore masks, as well, out of an abundance of caution.
Friday, July 16, 2021


The first case of COVID-19 Delta variant has been confirmed in Twin Falls County.

Six cases of the Delta variant, which originated in India, have been identified in Idaho so far. Nineteen variants of concern have been identified in Blaine County so far but none have been the Delta variant.

Evidence shows that the Delta variant is significantly more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain. It now causes about 58 percent of the cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The Delta variant is called the fittest and fastest for good reason,” said Tanis Maxwell, the health district’s lead epidemiologist. “We’ve watched this strain spread quickly throughout India, the UK, and now the U.S. Identifying just one case in our region means it is likely there are more that simply haven’t been identified.”

 Those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 are at low risk of contracting or spreading the virus. But the Delta variant is spreading like wildfire in areas like Springfield, Mo., where vaccination rates are low.

Idaho also boasts a low vaccination rate. While Blaine County leads the state with 85 percent of its residents 12 an older vaccinated, only about 42 percent of eligible south central Idaho residents are fully vaccinated. That number drops to 22 percent with residents between 12 and 34 years of age.

 Statewide 45 percent of those 12 and older are fully vaccinated compared with a national average of about 57 percent.

 South Central Public Health District has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks. Case rates began dropping in mid-January as vaccination rates climbed, but the trend reversed in mid-June.

 And, as with elsewhere in the United States, 94 percent of the cases reported since June have been among those who are not vaccinated. A full 98.7 percent of COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the state are among residents who have not been vaccinated, according to Idaho Health and Welfare.

 New cases in the state had hovered around 78 a day for a couple weeks. State officials reported 300 new cases over the weekend, with hot spots in Ada, Canyon, Twin Falls, Bannock and Kootenai counties. The average age of those with COVID-19 is now 40; Those between 18 and 29 are making up most of the new cases.

 And health officials now warn that half of children who contract COVID-19 may half long-haul COVID scars, such as stomach problems, headaches, lethargy and lung damage, for the rest of their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health.

 “All of our residents play a crucial role in stopping the disease. Right now, vaccines are still highly effective against the variants but viruses can mutate to stay alive. With every new mutation/variant created we run the risk of this virus becoming resistant to vaccines,” said Logan Hudson, the health district’s public health division administrator. “The only way to stop variants from forming is to stop the virus from spreading. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, I urge you to get your vaccine as soon as possible.”

 Maxwell said a massive fall surge can be prevented if enough residents receive their vaccine now—before school starts.

“Time is running out to get our communities fully vaccinated before people begin gathering indoors again,” he said.

Along with vaccination, residents can take simple steps to protect themselves from the spread of disease:

 Wear a mask in public if you have not been vaccinated

  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when sick except to seek medical attention
  • Maintain space between yourself and others you don’t live with
  • Avoid large gatherings

  SCPHD is running two COVID-19 informational hotlines, one in English at (208) 737-1138, and one in Spanish at (208) 737-5965. Email questions to scphd@phd5.idaho.gov.




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