COVID Delta variant may already be in the Rio Grande Valley

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — After weeks of COVID number dropping, Hidalgo County reported a rise in COVID cases and as of July 2, 51 people were in the hospital with COVID.

Across the country and the world, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading.

According to Hidalgo County health authority Dr. Ivan Melendez, the Rio Grande Valley doesn’t have the ability to test for the Delta variant.

“We don’t have very good data to support why we continue to have 50 plus patients with the high success vaccination rate that we have. But we definitely suspect that the variant is here, we just haven’t confirmed it,” said Melendez.

The Delta variant spreads 75% faster than the original strain of COVID-19 according to Yale Medicine. Because of the mutations, the disease is going through, Cameron County health authority Dr. James Castillo said he thinks COVID-19 is here to stay.

“The Delta variant is a good example of how what’s happening in other parts of the world will come back here. So, this virus is going to keep circulating until almost everybody is immune to it,” said Castillo.

Even when new cases were lower in June, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Hidalgo County never dropped below 50 people in the hospital.

Castillo said it’s easier to prevent the disease than treat it.

“This is a disease where we still don’t have a very effective treatment to help treat it when you get it. And now that we have such a very effective vaccine available, it is something that everybody should take advantage of as soon as possible,” said Castillo.

Both health authorities said that the majority of people who end up in the hospital in their respective counties are unvaccinated. Those that end up dying have something in common, too.

“100% of the people that have gone to heaven, that have died, were unvaccinated people. Down at least in Hidalgo County,” said Melendez.

In a press conference earlier this week, Castillo said he expected to confirm the Rio Grande Valley’s first case of the Delta variant within a month and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The CDC’s mask guidance says unvaccinated people should wear masks indoors, and also outdoors if you’re going to be in a large crowd to celebrate the 4th of July weekend.

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