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COVID-19 Delta variant reported in Wichita County

Public health director strongly encourages getting vaccinated
Thursday, July 15, 2021
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With a sharp uptick in Wichita County of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths this week, Wichita County health officials learned Wednesday that the Delta variant is officially in Wichita County and are renewing their plea for residents to get vaccinated.

The Delta variant is the latest mutation of the Covid-19 virus that is becoming widespread in Texas and other undervaccinated areas in the United States. It also appears to be more contagious than earlier strains, and could be leading to the recent rise in hospitalizations related to Covid.

Wichita County Public Health District Director Lou Kreidler said the district received test results Wednesday on six of the eight samples sent to the Texas Department of State Health Services to test for the Delta variant.

Of the six results, three were determined to be the Alpha strain, two are the Delta variant and one was unable to test.

The Wichita County Public Health District reported two deaths last week of individuals between 40 and 49 years old, and 60 to 69 years old. One of the individuals was hospitalized at the time of death and was a Johnson and Johnson vaccine breakthrough case.

With 53 new cases reported in the county for last week, the positivity rate among those tested surged from 6.98 percent the previous week to a current positivity rate of 14.52 percent.

Although official numbers of new infections are not released until Friday of each week as of Tuesday evening this week, more cases had already been reported than all of last week, according to the health district, which is a concern to local health officials.

As of last Friday there were 88 active infections in Wichita County bringing the total number of COVID cases here since the pandemic began in 2020 to 15,314. Last week also saw 28 Wichita County residents with Covid recover.

Of the new cases last week three of those were vaccine breakthrough cases, all of which were symptomatic and one was hospitalized for COVID-related symptoms. The total number of vaccine breakthrough cases in the county is 48, and still falls well below the scientific estimates of expected breakthrough cases. The breakthrough cases represent one percent of the almost 48,000 vaccinations administered here.

Of the 48 cases, 16 were from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, five from Moderna, and 27 from Pfizer. Most shots given in the county have been Pfizer.

Wichita County is also reporting 73 re-infections, one of which was reported last week, and three of which are symptomatic.

As of Wednesday, 13 Wichita County residents were hospitalized due to Covid with seven listed in stable condition, and six in critical condition.

Delta Variant

Lou Kreidler said the most feared consequences of any variant of concern relate to infectiousness, severity of disease and immunity conferred by by previous infection and vaccines. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates Delta is 55% more transmissible than the Alpha variant which was itself around 50% more transmissible than the original Wuhan virus.

Kreidler explained that it translates to Delta’s effective reproductive rate (the number of people on average a person with the virus will infect in the absence of controls such as vaccination) being five or higher. This compared to two to three for the original strain.

The reason the Delta variant is more infectious is that the mutation increases the spike protein’s ability to bind to human cells, thereby increasing its infectiousness.

Getting people vaccinated is the key to slowing down the recent spike in Covid, according to Kreidler. “Our over-all vaccination rate for individuals 12 and older is almost 39 percent,” Kreidler said. What has been seen in other communities with vaccination rates below 40 percent is a rapid rise in both Covid cases and hospitalizations in areas where they are seeing an increase in the Delta variant.


The Wichita Falls Wichita County Health District conducts free COVID-19 immunization clinics each Thursday, and the vaccine is widely available at most pharmacies and medical facilities in the county.

Kreidler stressed the importance of continuing safety precautions, and getting vaccinated. “Get vaccinated,” Kreidler said. “That really is the best way to protect yourself.”