PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the delta variant becomes the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the US and around the world, Oregon health officials said the variant is currently not very prevalent in the state.
But Washington health officials said the delta variant is on the rise there.
To date, there have only been 13 reported cases of the delta variant in Oregon, and it’s been largely contained — so far — to the northwestern and far eastern parts of the state: Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Multnomah, Tillamook, Washington, Baker, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties.
The more prevalent variant in Oregon is the alpha variant, with 1,700 recorded cases. Yet, scientists believe the delta variant is 50% more contagious than the alpha — so it may be a matter of time before the delta overtakes it.
Dr. Jennifer Vines, the lead health officer for the tri-county region in Oregon, said the delta variant has been shown to cause more severe outcomes and is expected to become the dominant strain sometime in August.
“I think there’s a sense, definitely in public health circles, that COVID is not over so even though June 30 was a win in many ways as we look back, we are not done with this virus yet,” said Vines. “So again the virus determines the timeline and we’re going to be watching this very closely heading into fall.”
Oregon Health Authority officials said all FDA-authorized COVID vaccines work exceptionally well to prevent infection from all the variants.
However, there is an elevated community spread in areas with lower rates of vaccination. That’s why health officials continue to say vaccination remains the most effective tool to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in your area.
Dr. Scott Linquist, the Washington State Health Officer, agrees.
“As we’ve said, the biggest problem is if you haven’t been vaccinated. Unfortunately, the strains that in waiting in Washington state are all variants with increased morbidity and hospitalization,” Linquist said. “So still continuing to wear masks is still the most effective measure for someone who isn’t vaccinated.”
Last week, the Washington Department of Health reported the delta variant isn’t as prevalent in Washington as it is in other states. Health officials said the delta variant accounts for 27.5% of overall COVID-19 cases but last week, it only accounted for 11%.
As of July 7 in Washington, there have been 656 cases of the delta variant compared to more than 8,000 cases of the alpha variant.
Washington health officials said the delta variant does appear to be affecting younger people but there is not a lot of evidence at this time.
Half of the population in Washington is still vulnerable and unvaccinated, considering kids under 12 are not yet eligible.
Globally, the delta variant is spreading quickly.
The United Kingdom has recorded more than 100,000 delta variant cases, which is 97% of their current coronavirus cases. India is second behind the UK, with the delta variant accounting for more than 90% of their cases.
The United States is third in the world for delta prevalence with 6,700 reported cases — including 2,200 cases within the past month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the delta variant is now the dominant strain of coronavirus in the U.S., reporting it now accounts for over 51% of cases. The CDC says the delta strain even accounts for more than 80% of new infections in some states with lower vaccination rates, including Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.