Two cases of a new, highly-contagious variant of COVID-19 have been identified in Skagit County, Skagit County Public Health said in a news release Thursday.

Called the delta variant, it originated in India and can spread more easily than previously identified strains of the virus.

While county Public Health has identified two cases, it should be assumed that more cases are present in the community, the release states. 

“While Skagit County continues to see a downward trend in new COVID-19 cases, it is vital that people continue to use precautions,” Jennifer Johnson, county Public Health director, said in the release. “The detection of these COVID-19 variants in our state proves that this pandemic isn’t over just yet.”

This variant has been associated with new outbreaks in the U.S. and globally. 

Statewide, the delta variant accounts for about 28% of new COVID-19 cases identified in the past two weeks, a 12% increase compared to the prior two-week period, according to the release. 

Vaccination continues to be the best tool to protect against COVID-19. According to county data, 96% of cases since March 1 have been in unvaccinated individuals, demonstrating the effectiveness of the vaccines, the release states. 

Those who are vaccinated and begin to feel sick should still seek out a test. While rare, vaccinated people can contract COVID-19. 

Unvaccinated individuals should continue to wear a mask when near others and avoid indoor gatherings, according to the release. 

County-run pop-up vaccination sites have been scheduled through the summer. A schedule is available at skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine.

A full list of vaccination sites by location is available at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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