Health officials concerned after Delta variant of COVID-19 discovered in Shelby County


A 3-D rendering of the coronavirus (Getty Images).

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department has confirmed additional cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Tuesday, officials sounded the alarm that people need to get vaccinated before the number of new COVID cases begins to rise, saying the new variant could undo the progress that the area has made. They said it’s not time to declare victory over COVID-19 just yet.

“We are urging everyone to get vaccinated because that’s the way we can continue the progress that we’ve made,” said Dr. Bruce Randolph.

According to health officials, a cluster of cases were identified Wednesday, June 9, and three new cases were confirmed on June 13. Another 14 cases are classified as probable.

The individuals who tested positive for the variant have not traveled outside of the United States. There were several who had traveled domestically. One of the 10 individuals had been fully vaccinated.

“This means the virus is in Shelby County and seems to be spreading in our community,” said Dr. David Sweat. “The pandemic is not over, but we have an opportunity before it gets completely out of control, for people who have not been vaccinated to get vaccinated.”

Fully vaccinated people have 88% protection against the new Delta strain, Sweat said. Partially vaccinated people have less protection.

Health officials said the new variant is 50 percent easier to transmit than the UK variant, which is currently the dominant strain in Shelby County. It’s believed that the vaccines provide 88 percent protection against this strain.

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