These Are the 10 States Where the New Delta-Plus Strain Is Spreading Now
A growing number of areas have reported cases of the subvariant.
The earliest fall days brought a renewed sense of hope in the fight against COVID-19 as newly reported cases were in a sustained decline for weeks. But, unfortunately, just as in the past, defeating the virus once and for all remains elusive as average daily cases have begun to plateau at a relatively high rate of around 74,000 as of last week, CNBC reports. And it's not just the stalled-out decline of new infections that has some officials concerned: the potentially faster-spreading Delta-plus subvariant known as AY.4.2 has also been reported in 10 states so far and counting.
The viral offshoot first garnered attention when it was discovered to be spreading through the U.K. in July. Months later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it had detected the subvariant circulating in the U.S. at very low levels of less than 0.05 percent of active cases. Comparatively, the original Delta variant was responsible for 99 percent of cases in the U.S. during the same time.
Fortunately, officials said that current evidence didn't point to the new subvariant posing a more significant threat overall. "We particularly monitor for sublineages that could impact therapeutics, such as monoclonal antibodies and vaccines," Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the CDC, said during an Oct. 20 press briefing. "At this time, there is no evidence that the sublineage AY.4.2 impacts the effectiveness of our current vaccines or therapeutics."
Still, research has found that the subvariant likely can spread 12 to 18 percent more efficiently than the original variant. "The Delta-plus is a variant form of Delta that's a little bit more infectious," John Goldman, MD, infectious disease specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told local FOX affiliate WPMT. He explained that each person infected with the original strain of COVID-19 would likely pass it along to one to two more people. In comparison, the Delta variant was contagious enough to spread along to four to six other people. However, he said that research has shown Delta-plus to be even more contagious, spreading to seven to eight people from one infected host.
Goldman pointed out that the vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 cases were made up of unvaccinated individuals, adding that "even with the Delta, the vaccinations are holding up well against the virus." He warned that giving the virus the ability to spread to more people could allow it to become more dangerous, adding: "Some people have even described the unvaccinated as variant factories."
But where has the AY.4.2 subvariant already been reported? Read on to see which states have already detected at least one case of the new Delta-plus strain as of Nov. 10, according to Outbreak.info.
Lab sequencing has so far found 15 cases in California caused by the AY.4.2 subvariant. As of Nov. 10, the state also has a daily new case average of 16.1 per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 2.8 percent, according to COVID Act Now.
One case of the Delta-plus subvariant has been reported in Connecticut. Current daily case averages there are 9.6 per 100,000 people and a 2.3 percent positive test rate.
According to lab results, a single case caused by AY.4.2 subvariant has been reported in Florida. There's also a positive test rate of 2.7 percent and a daily new case average of 6.9 per capita.
One AY.4.2 case has been reported in Maryland so far, where the positive test rate is currently 3.2 percent, and the new daily case average is 11.5 per 100,000 people.
One case of the Delta-plus subvariant has been uncovered by lab testing in Massachusetts as of Nov. 10. The positive test rate there is also 1.9 percent, and the daily case average is 22.5 per capita.
A single case caused by the Delta-plus subvariant has been reported in Nevada so far. Meanwhile, the positive test rate is 10.3 percent, and the daily case average is 25 per 100,000 people.
Lab results show AY.4.2. has been responsible for one case in the state of North Carolina. The daily case average is 16.1 per capita, while the positivity rate is 4.5 percent.
In Rhode Island, one case was found to have been caused by AY.4.2. The positive test rate in the state is two percent, while its daily new case average is 26.8 per 100,000 people.
Virginia has reported three cases caused by the Delta subvariant to date. The state is currently seeing a daily average of 15.3 new cases per capita and a positive test rate of six percent.
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So far, Washington has reported two cases of the Delta-plus subvariant. The state doesn't currently provide data on its positive test rate, but it is presently showing an average of 23.1 new COVID cases each day per 100,000 people.