Health Officials Report Spread of COVID-19 Delta Variant in Hawai‘i
The COVID-19 Delta variant is spreading in the state, the Hawai‘i Department of Health’s State Laboratories Division (SLD) confirmed this morning.
To date, there have been three cases of the Delta variant associated with travel from the continental United States. Two of those cases are on O‘ahu and one is on Hawai‘i Island. In addition, SLD has identified the Delta variant in a specimen from an O‘ahu resident with no history of travel. The Department of Health is investigating to determine the extent of household and community transmission.
“Given what we know about the Delta variant and the cases already identified in Hawai‘i, we expect to detect additional cases in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, the acting State Epidemiologist. “Our best defense against of the variants is to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
All the individuals with COVID-19 caused by the Delta variant have been symptomatic. Only one of the four people was fully vaccinated for COVID-19. In the three travel-related cases, all household members and close contacts who were fully vaccinated for COVID-19 have tested negative.
While none of the individuals infected with the variant have been hospitalized, there is a higher risk than with the regular COVID-19 strain.
“A recently published study from Scotland found that the risk of COVID-19 hospital admission was approximately double in those with the Delta variant when compared to those with the B.1.1.7 strain, also known as the U.K. or Alpha variant,” said SLD Administrator Edward Desmond.
The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, now makes up approximately 10% of all cases in the U.S. The Delta variant could soon become the dominant strain of SARS-CoV-2 in the nation according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the US are effective against COVID-19 variants currently spreading in the nation.
The State Laboratories Division began genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in June 2020. It now examines 50 to 100 specimens a week and has developed a testing algorithm designed to find variants in a timely manner.
Information on where to get vaccinated is available here. at https://hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine.