TWIN FALLS — The South Central Public Health District attributes the recent surge of COVID-19 cases to the delta variant because of how quickly it can spread.
South Central Public Health District officials say the Delta Variant of COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly throughout the Magic Valley. However, they don't just feel cases are increasing, but that the delta variant is likely the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the region.
According to the health district, as of yesterday, there were 3,700 active and probable COVID-19 cases in South Central Idaho. Since mid-July, there have been only 190 confirmed cases in the region, yet the district thinks it could make up more than half of confirmed cases in the area.
The reason for the limited number of confirmed delta variant cases is because when a COVID-19 test is administered, only a fraction of them can be tested again to see which variant it is. There is a lot of factors that come into play when trying to run a second test.
There has to be enough genetic material remaining on the swab, it has to be done in a consistent time frame because if it gets too old, it cannot be used, and it cannot be damaged, which tends to happen.
“A lot of these tests that we use to identify COVID-19, they damage the test enough that we cannot actually send them through another test to identify the variant," said Brianna Bodily, spokesperson for South Central Public Health District. "Which means, the majority of tests across the state are not fit to be tested for the variant.”
The reason why the health district attributes this recent surge of COVID-19 cases to the Delta Variant is because of its main characteristics. Especially, that it tends to spread more rapidly among people, and since this similar trend is being seen across the United States.
“Viruses spread by variant, then we know that it’s very likely as we basically take in these sample tests, we’re looking at a representative of the rest of the community," said Bodily. "So, when that representative continues to test positive for the Delta Variant. That tells us that most of the cases out there are likely the Delta Variant.”
As this upward trend of COVID-19 cases continues, schools and cities are beginning to take more protocols to ensure the safety of people. The health district is focusing on keeping people safe through community education.
“What we do see throughout our community is more exhaustion on every level," said Bodily. "On the level of the average resident. On the level of the first responder. On the level of the public health worker. So, making sure that we are connecting those dots for people, connecting them to resources is a very important priority for us.”