Experts say there are far more than 3 Delta variant COVID-19 cases in mid-Michigan

There are only three confirmed Delta variant cases in our area - one in Ingham County, one in Clinton County, and one new case in Barry County.
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant is rapidly on the rise across the United States. Cases have risen 30% in just the last two weeks.

There are only three confirmed Delta variant cases in our area - one in Ingham County, one in Clinton County, and one new case in Barry County - but health officials are convinced there are far more cases that have not been identified.

“It’s likely that there are more cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 around than we think,” Sarah Surna said of Barry-Eaton Health Department.

“While we might not be at that 83 percent yet, it is definitely more prevalent than just a single case,” Linda Vail said, Ingham County Health Officer.

While the case numbers in mid-Michigan may be small now, experts say the Delta strain will grow, similar to the B.1.1.7 variant.

“Eventually it (B. 1. 1. 7) became the predominant strain in the United States,” Vail said. “This (Delta) is now becoming the predominant strain in the United States so it’s going to be fairly soon safe to say, that mostly anybody, the vast majority of people that test positive for COVID-19, are probably going to have this Delta variant.”

But why haven’t more Delta cases been identified? One reason is not every COVID-19 test gets sent in for sequencing to determine whether they’re variant cases. When they do, it can take weeks, which explains why the Barry County resident who tested positive on July 5th wasn’t determined to be a Delta variant case until July 19.

“They’re taking a look at the actual genetic makeup of what that sample is to see what variant of the virus it is and that’s a step beyond seeing if it’s just COVID-19 or not,” Surna said. “That process takes some time which is why we did not find out it was identified as a Delta variant until much later.”

Unvaccinated populations remain the most vulnerable, including young children below age 12. Experts say because it’s likely there are many unidentified cases, it could begin to hit unvaccinated populations hard.

“We’re likely to see more cases,” Vail said. “We’re likely to see more cases particularly in unvaccinated people and we’re likely to see more unvaccinated people in the hospital.”

Both Vail and Surna worry as the fall approaches, a surge with the Delta variant could be a problem. They recommend that vaccines are the best way to prevent that spread.

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