Jun 20, 2021 08:22 UTC
  • Delta variant infecting mounting number of people in rural Kansas and Missouri

The deadly Delta coronavirus variant is infecting an increasing number of people in rural Kansas and Missouri.

The B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India in October was upgraded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week from a "variant of interest" to a "variant of concern."

According to the CDC estimates, the delta variant accounts for nearly 10% of new cases in the United States.

As of May 22, Missouri had seen the highest percentage of the variant at 6.8% of reported cases, shows the latest CDC data.

The data also shows high community transmission in rural areas of Missouri and Kansas, regions already grappling with slow vaccination rates.

Southwest Missouri has seen a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations too.

According to Kendra Findley, the administrator of community health and epidemiology with Green County, random testing of virus samples indicates rising cases of the delta strain.

"It shows us that what we've got in the community is a much more infectious variant that we are having to deal with, which shows why we have such an explosion of cases not just in Greene County, but in southwest Missouri," she told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

On Wednesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said the state "is experiencing a rise in individuals contracting the Delta variant," which "has become prevalent in communities throughout Missouri."

The state had also the biggest increases in new COVID cases during the past two weeks, up 52 percent, behind only Arkansas with 59 percent, according to The New York Times data as of June 19.