New Delta Variant Causes Increase in COVID-19 Cases

Health officials announced an increasing urgency for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the more dangerous new Delta variant is rapidly spreading in the United States, including in North Carolina.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified the Delta variant as a ‘variant of concern’ because it spreads faster than current COVID-19 variants.

The Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is urging all unvaccinated North Carolinians to get a COVID-19 vaccine as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have been inching up across the state. North Carolina’s early warning systems are showing more people going to the emergency department with COVID-like illness and elevated viral levels in wastewater in certain regions of the state.

“Don’t wait to vaccinate. Serious illness, hospitalization, death, and the long-term effects experienced by many who have had COVID-19 are preventable with vaccines,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Protect yourself and those you love by getting vaccinated now.”

While the state’s trends are far below where they were at the height of the pandemic, cases increased by 12% the week ending on July 3 compared to the previous seven days, and hospitalizations have increased by 8% over the past seven days. The state’s sampling of wastewater treatment plants also shows recent increasing of viral particles in four locations since June 24.

Since May, more than 99% of new cases in North Carolina have occurred in people who are not fully vaccinated. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is easy and safe. Vaccines are proven to be effective against COVID-19 and its variants. More than 150 million Americans have been safely vaccinated are protected from COVID-19 related hospitalization and death. North Carolinians can go to MySpot.nc.gov to find a vaccine location.

“Vaccines remain the best protection against COVID-19, including against the Delta variant,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore. “Nationwide, more than 50% of new cases are now caused by the Delta variant, and the number of Delta variant cases is rapidly increasing in North Carolina.”

NCDHHS announced the state is expanding availability of its at-home COVID-19 test collection. Any North Carolina resident may receive a Pixel by Labcorp® COVID-19 PCR Test Home Collection Kit that is shipped overnight directly to their homes at no cost. Tests can be used on people age 2 and up.

COVID-19 information from across state government, including information about unemployment, can be found at www.nc.gov/covid19.

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