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CDC investigates new delta variant in Mesa County

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 8:36 PM MDT|Updated: Jun. 25, 2021 at 8:40 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - The CDC has begun investigating the Delta Variant in Mesa County, which has been spreading rapidly throughout Mesa County and the state of Colorado over the last month.

State epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy was at Mesa County Public Health as well earlier this week to help in the investigation. We are still awaiting the results from the CDC investigation.

The delta variant, originally identified in India, is still so new, so not much is known yet about it. A team from the CDC arrived in Mesa County this week to investigate the ‘how and why’ behind the rapid spread in Western Colorado.

Mesa County saw the first delta variant case in early May and is ranked number one in highest confirmed cases of the delta variant throughout the state of Colorado.

“As of today we’ve seen 314 cases of the delta variant here in Mesa County,” said Mesa County Public Health Epidemiology Program Manager Heidi Dragoo. “Our peak week for activity so far was the very last week of May where we had 75 cases reported during that week. We know activity is on the rise so we’re seeing a lot of transmission right now of this delta variant in our county.”

Mesa County Public Health tells us Our community is seeing a very high number of hospitalizations, likely from the delta variant. As the variant has been proven to be more contagious and cause more severe symptoms than the original COVID-19 variant.

“We’re seeing a lot of activity due to the delta variant here in Mesa County,” said Dragoo “We are actually the county with the most delta variant activity in the state of Colorado. El Paso County is right behind us. Colorado as a state is also seeing the second highest delta variant activity, I believe after the state of Missouri. So we know our state activity is largely driven by the activity we’re seeing here in Mesa.”

According to a new study done in Scotland, the Pfizer vaccine is about 79% effective against the delta variant. While the Pfizer vaccine is widely known as 95% effective against the original strain.

“A new study out of Scotland has found that the delta variant carries nearly double the risk of hospitalizations when we compare the delta variant and our original COVID-19 variant,” said Mesa County Public Health Communication Coordinator Stefany Busch. “We know the transmissibility or how contagious the delta variant is is a little over 50% more, so that’s why we’re seeing it. It’s in our community and it’s rapidly spreading.”

According to Mesa County Public Health, only 40% of Mesa County residents are fully vaccinated. Epidemiology experts believe the likely cause behind the high surge in our county is a combination of low vaccination rates, paired with a very transmissible variant.

According to the CDC, Around 90% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Colorado are unvaccinated

“One thing we know about the delta variant is it tends to cause people to have more symptoms of COVID and to potentially have more severe illness. In looking at our recent data we know that about 90% of our COVID cases that tested positive for the delta variant had not been vaccinated,” said Dragoo. “So we know that the vaccine is still our best tool and best defense against severe illness due to COVID.”

Mesa County Public Health says the greatest defense we have against the new delta variant is vaccination. They’re urging everyone in Mesa County to get vaccinated now that it’s so widely available.

To locate a vaccination clinic near you in Mesa County, visit https://health.mesacounty.us/vaccine-provider-list-mesa-county or call 1-800-232-0233.

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