JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (The video above is from a previous report on July 2, 2021)
While some people might feel as if COVID-19 is a thing of the past, doctors say the delta variant is still a very real concern and may be contributing to an influx of new cases here in Florida.
According to the most recent data from the Florida Department of Health, for the week of July 2, there were nearly about 23,700 new covid cases statewide — compared to about 16,000 the prior week.
"The majority of new cases in our hospital are probably are the delta variant," says Chad Neilsen, the Director of Infection Prevention at UF Health. “And that’s just our assumption based on how the numbers are... we weren’t seeing hospitalizations rise despite low vaccination numbers. Now that we’re seeing our admissions due to COVID rise in the face of a not changing vaccine number, it has to mean it’s the delta variant..."
Neilsen says the variant is not only deadlier but spreads quicker than other covid strains.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the delta variant is the most common strain of the virus in the United States, accounting for about 52 percent of new cases.
However, Neilsen says at this point, we don’t know how many delta variant cases are on the First Coast.
He says screening for the variant is difficult and involves genetic sequencing. The state tracks the variant by sending random samples to Department of Health laboratories to be tested.
Neilsen says the results have yet to be released to them.
"So we really don’t even know how many people are tested positive for Delta out of the total number of covid positives in Duval or anywhere in Florida,” he explains. "Without knowledge... that the Delta variant is here, we’re kind of assuming it is based on our rising number of hospitalizations and rising number of mortalities and severe illness we are seeing across the state.”
Neilsen explains the vaccine has been proven to be effective against the variant, so he urges those who haven’t been vaccinated to consider doing so.
"We need people to get out there and get vaccinated, otherwise, this is going to stick around for a long time.”
First Coast News has reached out to the Department of Health in Duval County asking how many delta cases have been discovered here, or if those who have the delta variant are notified. We have not heard back yet.