12 Delta variant cases reported in Orange County, likely to become predominant strain, health official says

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The Delta variant of COVID-19 has been traced to a dozen infected people, and will likely become the predominant strain here, said Dr. Raul Pino, the local state health officer.

The variant, like other mutated strands of the virus, is highly transmissible but until today hadn’t been confirmed in cases in Orange County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the variant to be one of concern.

“These numbers are going to increase,” Pino said. “This one is going to be the predominant variant in a few weeks and this cycle will happen: A new variant will come and it will take over and the variants we have seen have been more infectious than the one before.”

It’s also likely that the variant is here in higher numbers than are reported, as only a fraction of Florida’s positive COVID-19 tests are investigated for variant cases.

Pino said none of the 12 patients infected with the Delta variant has died. It’s unknown what condition the patients are in, and if they have a history of travel.

“You know as much as I do,” Pino said. “These are very fresh.”

The reported cases come as the county is on the mend in its battle with the virus. Over the past two weeks, just under 4% of tests have been positive for the virus, and the county has been below 5% of positive tests for each of the past 33 days.

About 57% of eligible county residents have at least one dose of vaccine, which Pino said would be key in preventing the variant from taking hold.

“We have the perfect tool: Let’s get vaccinated,” he said.

rygillespie@orlandosentinel.com, shudak@orlandosentinel.com

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