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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

COVID-19 Delta Variant Now The Dominant Strain In Montana

Moderna COVID vaccine in a small bottle
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Delta is now the predominant variant of COVID-19 detected in Montana, according to the state health department’s latest variant report.

The Delta variant was first detected in the state in April, but the B.1.1.7 strain, also known as the UK variant, remained dominant until now. Magdalena Scott with the communicable disease program at the state health department says the change started in early June.

“In July, over 50 percent of the specimens we have sequenced are the Delta variant.”

Scott says the state and its contractors are running every positive test possible through a sequencing process to track variant spread, although overall cases remain relatively low in Montana.

The finding that Delta is now the predominant variant detected falls in line with the national trend. Federal health officials say the Delta variant accounts for over 80 percent of cases across the U.S. The strain has been shown to be about twice as infectious, raising concerns for the unvaccinated.

“For Delta variant, we’re seeing that approximately 22 percent of those cases wind up hospitalized,” Scott says.

Scott says those who are hospitalized continue to be largely unvaccinated or elderly with underlying conditions.