LUBBOCK, Texas — The Delta variant first made its way to West Texas weeks ago, and since then, cases of this stronger type of COVID-19 have been growing rapidly. The Lubbock Health Department said cases of the variant have at least doubled in the last three weeks.
“Covid is still here … The [Delta variant] is here — It spreads more rapidly, and we do have those unvaccinated populations and that’s where we see little mini outbreaks,” Public Health Director Katherine Wells said.
The Delta variant is more contagious and more dangerous for people who are unvaccinated — something Wells says is concerning, especially as Lubbock’s vaccine rates dwindle.
Now, an outbreak of this Delta variant at a Houston Church camp this week is serving as a wake up call for health experts across the state — as well as a warning for West Texas.
“[A similar outbreak] could happen here too … With all disease, we tend to follow those state trends, so I feel comfortable saying that the Delta variant is either the most prominent one here now or it will be in the next week or two,” Wells said.
While local overall virus cases remain low, Wells pointed out that cases of the Delta variant are growing, and they’re hard to track because it takes weeks after a positive virus test to learn which variant it is. For that reason, the health department said it couldn’t provide an estimate of just how many Delta variant cases are currently in Lubbock.
However, Wells fears this strain could wreak havoc on the city’s vulnerable populations.
“We still have large gaps, large pockets in our community that are unvaccinated and also our youngsters, so I really worry about seeing an uptick in cases with both of those groups,” Wells said.
She added that the Delta variant is likely what’s behind most of the new virus cases, locally and nationally.
“It’s still something we’re going to have to deal with, and we’re continuing to do our contact tracing efforts and those vaccination efforts at the same time,” Wells said.
And while the health department can’t stop the inevitable spread, it can help protect you.
“We don’t have any magic thing that’s going to keep it from spreading here except for the vaccine,” Wells said.