(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) State data shows a more contagious — and potentially more deadly — variant gained a bigger foothold in Missouri this month.
The latest update to Missouri’s Sewershed Surveillance website shows the Delta Variant was found in the St. Joseph sewershed samples collected during the week of June 7. The variant was also detected in 9 other counties including Linn, Platte, Vernon, and Miller.
The state sewershed data also shows St. Joseph’s viral load increased by at least 25 percent or more in the last two weeks or 40 percent or more from last week.
The delta variant first identified in India is blamed for a massive surge in cases and thousands of deaths in April and May, before spreading to more than 80 countries including the U.S.
Livingston and Linn counties as well as several southwest Missouri counties have experienced a sharp increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations. Health and state officials have stated the delta variant is likely the cause.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upgraded the delta strain to a “variant of concern” last week. The CDC said the mutation of the virus is highly transmissible and also does not appear to respond to monoclonal antibody treatments as well as other strains. The agency also noted it may be more severe and lead to more hospitalizations.
Shortly after the CDC elevated the risk level of the delta variant, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services sent out its own warning. In a DHSS news release issued Wednesday, state health officials said Missouri "is experiencing a rise in individuals contracting the Delta variant.
Missouri has the highest percentage of delta variant cases, 6.8 percent, in May compared to the rest of the U.S., according to recent CDC data.