HONOLULU — The state Department of Health’s State Laboratories Division confirms the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.617.2, also known as the delta variant of concern, is spreading in the state.
To date, there have been three cases of the delta variant associated with travel from the mainland. Two of those cases are on O‘ahu and one is on Hawai‘i Island.
In addition, the SLD has identified the delta variant in a specimen from an O‘ahu resident with no history of travel. The DOH is investigating to determine the extent of household and community transmission.
All the persons with COVID-19 caused by the delta variant have been symptomatic. None have been hospitalized. Only one of the four persons was fully vaccinated for COVID-19. In the three travel-related cases, all household members and close contacts who were fully vaccinated for COVID-19 have tested negative.
“A recently-published study from Scotland found that the risk of COVID-19 hospital admission was approximately double in those with the delta variant when compared to those with the B.1.1.7 strain, also known as the U.K. or alpha variant,” said SLD Administrator Edward Desmond.
The delta variant, which was first detected in India, now makes up approximately 10% of all cases in the U.S. The delta variant could soon become the dominant strain of SARS-CoV-2 in the nation, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Given what we know about the delta variant and the cases already identified in Hawai‘i, we expect to detect additional cases in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, acting state epidemiologist. “Our best defense against of the variants is to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
The COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. are effective against COVID-19 variants currently spreading in the nation.
The SLD began genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in June 2020. It now examines 50 to 100 specimens a week, and has developed a testing algorithm designed to find variants in a timely manner.
Information on where to get vaccinated is available at hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine.
The DOH Health Kaua‘i District Health Office reported one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s case is an adult resident whose source of infection is considered community-acquired and is not related to any active clusters currently identified.
All active cases are in isolation, and close contacts are being identified, offered testing and directed to quarantine. Investigations are ongoing.
Tuesday’s case brings the number of active cases to 16, including one hospitalized, with 389 cumulative cases.
Free testing at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu‘e is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Testing is also available through primary-care physicians, hospitals and urgent-care clinics.
Residents aged 18 and older are eligible for any vaccine available at pharmacies, hospitals and clinics. The Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for use in those 12 years of age and older, and appointments are available at hospitals and pharmacies for this age group.
Vaccination is free and widely available on the island, including on weekends and evenings and pop-up vaccination opportunities at community sites. Many vaccination sites accept walk-ins. For details, visit kauai.gov/vaccine.