DALLAS - The state health department said a more contagious delta variant of COVID-19 is on the rise in Texas although the overall number of new coronavirus cases has remained fairly steady.
A small sample of tests shows the delta strain is five times more common than it was one week ago. It is believed to now account for 10 to 20% of the total cases in Texas.
But overall, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Texas remains steady. The state reported 1,400 new cases and 22 deaths on Wednesday.
The seven-day average fell a bit but remains above 1,100. Average deaths fell to 22 a day and that’s the lowest in more than one year.
There were 1,527 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals on Wednesday. That’s up 3% in one day and the first time in a week it’s been over 1,500.
The Centers for Disease Control is not urging fully vaccinated people to wear a mask, at least not yet.
The World Health Organization, however, is. So is the Los Angeles County Health Department.
"Because it spreads so much easier than the alpha variant, which is what we call the UK variant, which was more transmissible than the original strain. We’re seeing it spread rapidly throughout the United States and Texas. Because some proportion of those cases are going to be hospitalized and eventually die, we know that’s going to be a strain on our healthcare system," said Dr. Jennifer Shuford, the chief state epidemiologist.
The CDC said it should be up to local authorities to decide if masks are needed or not to prevent the spread of the delta variant.
Dr. Shuford said she has not tossed out her masks yet and will keep them on hand just in case.