COVID-19 delta variant spreading in the U.S.

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On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) encouraged even fully vaccinated people to take precautions against exposure the COVID-19 virus as the highly infectious delta variant becomes increasingly dominant in the U.S.

According to the CDC, about 20% of new cases in the United States are the delta variant. The delta variant is about 60% more contagious than the alpha variant, warn health officials.

The delta variant, which was first identified in India, is more contagious that the previous strains of COVID-19, according to WHO.

While COVID-19 vaccines have so far shown to be largely effective in preventing servere illness and death from the virus, it may be possible for vaccinated individuals to contract and spread the virus.  WHO officials urge the public to err on the side of caution and wear face masks in public areas where it is not possible to maintain 6 feet of social distance from those not in your immediate household.

COVID-19 cases continue to fall in areas with higher rates of COVID-19 vaccinations, and rise in areas with lower vaccination rates.

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) no longer that provides daily updates on the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations by county. FDOH now only releases weekly summaries.

For June 18-24, there were 44 new COVID-19 deaths in Florida. The FDOH summary does not list where the deaths were. Since the pandemic began 37,772 Floridians have died related to the virus.

FDOH no longer provides information about hospitalizations related to COVID-19.

Statewide, 57% of the population over age 12 has been vaccinated. Statewide, new case positivity for June 18-24 was 3.8%.

While vaccines are free and available through most pharmacies, vaccination rates in some area are well below the national and state averages.

In South Central Florida, for the week of June 18-24:

• Collier County: 63% of those over age 12 are vaccinated; 4.5% new case positivity;

• Glades County: 41% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 10.9% new positivity rate;

• Hendry County: 42% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 5.5% new positivity rate;

• Highlands County: 51% of those over age 12 vaccinated; 3.9% new positivity rate;

• Martin County: 58% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 3.2% new positivity rate;

• Okeechobee County: 37% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 7.0% new positivity rate;

• Palm Beach County: 61% of persons over age 12 vaccinated; 3.4% new case positivity rate.

Florida has more than 1,000 vaccine distribution sites for eligible residents. Vaccines are free at all locations. To find COVID-19 testing or vaccination sites, go online to floridahealthcovid19.gov.

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