Delta variant becomes dominant strain in Washington

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Matilde Campodonico

SPOKANE, Wash. — Several places across the country are seeing a rise in coronavirus cases again. The Delta variant has now become the dominant strain of the virus this month, and doctors say this can be particularly dangerous to those who are not vaccinated.

The Delta variant account for about 58% of all COVID-19 cases nationwide. In Washington, it’s a much different story. While it is the dominant strain in the state, it only accounts for about 41% of all cases.

The main reason? Vaccines.

“This is the most contagious version of the virus we have seen throughout the whole pandemic. It’s really really contagious, so if you have significant exposure you are going to see some breakthrough infections,” said physician Dr. Ashish Jha.

The Delta variant become the dominant strain of the coronavirus after making up only 3% of cases in late May. The demographic it is infecting most are younger people. According to the latest numbers released by the Washington Department of Health, almost 30% of the variant cases identified are those in the 0-19 age group, and another 30% in those ages 20-34. The vaccination rates in the state among those age groups line up closely to those case numbers, as well.

“If you’re a younger person and you’re healthy, which is a good thing, that does not mean that you cannot get sick, [it] doesn’t mean that you cannot have severe disease,” said SRHD interim health officer Dr. Frank Velazquez.

The good news, locally, is that only eight cases of the Delta variant have been identified in Spokane County, and as long as more people get vaccinated, those numbers should stay down.

“If we keep immunizing those that are not… the cases [can] be somewhat confined to only pockets of the population,” said Velazquez.

The focus on the health district and local health organizations is to now reach out to portions of the population who remain hesitant of the vaccine, and work with community partners to promote it.

RELATED: COVID cases climb across the nation and in Spokane region