Delta variant of COVID-19 a rising concern in Los Angeles County

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- While overall COVID-19 rates remain relatively low in Southern California amid continuing vaccination efforts, officials are increasingly worried about a growing threat from the delta variant.

Public health officials are reporting dozens of cases of the COVID-19 delta variant in Southern California.

The delta variant, first detected in India in late 2020, is believed to be more contagious than other variants of COVID-19 and has been detected in at least 80 countries and just about every state in this country.

"We know that the delta variant is even more transmissible than the U.K. variant and I anticipate that will be the predominant variant in the months ahead," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Dr. Richard Besser, a pediatrician and president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, on the Delta COVID-19 variant and COVID-19 vaccine testing for kids 5-11.

Cases are starting to surge in rural areas of Missouri and Arkansas and at least three other states with lower-than-average vaccination rates.

"It's a bigger and badder version of COVID, unfortunately, that's easier to spread from person to person," said Dr. David Bronstein, an infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Permanente.

Public health officials say since late April more than sixty cases of delta variant COVID-19 infections have been identified among Los Angeles County residents.

"The numbers are rising in LA County right now and primarily it is being spread in households," Bronstein said. "So you have one person who has the delta variant and they spread it pretty easily to someone else in the household."

Health officials continuing to stress the importance of getting more shots in the arms of Americans, saying vaccinations are effective against the variant.

"We've seen that vaccines we currently have available are also very effective against the delta variant, especially in preventing hospitalization from the variant," Bronstein said.

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