RICHMOND, Va. - The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced Friday a significant increase in the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) throughout the Commonwealth.
The Delta variant is dominant nationwide and is the most common variant in Virginia. It spreads more than twice as easily as earlier strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
VDH says 80% percent of infections that occurred during the week ending July 10 that were caused by a variant of concern and reported to the state health department were the Delta variant. This is an increase of 45% since the week of June 19.
The more infectious Delta variant is contributing to a surge of cases in Virginia.
Currently, a subset of COVID-19 positive specimens are available for the specialized testing that is required to see which variant type they are.
The Delta variant has been identified in all of Virginia’s five health regions.
“The Delta variant is here in Virginia, and it is hitting our unvaccinated population especially hard,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D, M.A. “We have a very effective tool to stop transmission of COVID-19: vaccination. There is no question that COVID-19 vaccination is saving lives and preventing and reducing illness. I urge everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Do it for your families, your friends, your neighbors, yourself, and join the millions of others who are protected.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), infections in fully vaccinated people, also known as breakthrough infections, happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated. Moreover, when these infections occur among vaccinated people, they tend to be mild.
However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant may be infectious and might spread the virus to others.
COVID-19 variants have emerged and circulated around the world throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States are effective at protecting persons from circulating variants of the COVID-19 virus. To protect yourself and others, health officials are encouraging people to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
VDH is advising Virginians to:
- Wear a mask in indoor settings even if you are vaccinated
- Get fully vaccinated
- Stay at least six feet from others outside of your household
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
- Wash your hands often
- Stay home if you are infected with COVID-19, and
- Stay separate from others and get tested if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19
Health officials say the best way to stop variant strains from developing in the first place is to stop the spread of COVID-19. See the Variants of Concern (VOC) dashboard for more information about all variants of concern identified in Virginia.