Has the delta variant made its way to the Cape Fear? Officials say it’s likely

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Health officials in New Hanover County are keeping an eye on the COVID-19 cases as numbers are creeping up yet again.

Public Health Director David Howard says this could be due to the highly contagious and reportedly more severe delta variant.

“We don’t have percentages of delta variants right now, those have to be sequenced at the CDC,” Howard said. “We have a small sample of that, but we expect delta variant is here as it is appearing everywhere across the country.”

It has been confirmed the delta variant has made its way to North Carolina and New Hanover Regional Medical Center Chief Clinical Officer Dr. West Paul says nationwide 60 to 80 percent of new COVID-19 cases are the variant, echoing Howard’s statement that it’s likely the strain is present in the community.

In the past two weeks, NHRMC has seen a staggering increase in hospitalizations, going from one to two patients to between 20 and 40. Dr. Paul says of all the current hospitalizations, none of the patients have been vaccinated.

“We like to say now that covid is a preventable disease and the vaccine prevents it,” Paul said. “That’s really how we should start name-calling COVID-19, it is a preventable disease and we have the prevention which is the vaccine.”

This time around, Assistant Public Health Director Carla Turner says it’s the younger population.

“Those are some of our lowest vaccination numbers, so that’s what we’re seeing,” Turner said. “You don’t have any protection so that’s where we’re starting to see positives in those age groups.”

As cases climb, all three officials say the vaccine is the solution to end the pandemic.

For information on where to get a COVID-19 vaccine, visit the NCDHHS website.

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