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The Jefferson County Health Department reported the county’s first confirmed case of the COVID-19 Delta variant today (July 14).

Brianne Zwiener, the Health Department’s public information officer, said she could not provide any specific information about the person who had been diagnosed with the Delta variant or whether the case was still active.

“Delta variant seems to spread more easily and quickly, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19,” Health Department epidemiologist Sara Wilton said. “An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.”

Wilton said the COVID-19 vaccines offer the best protection against the virus, including the Delta variant.

“At this time, studies suggest the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants, reducing the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19,” she said.

Color status

With coronavirus cases again on the rise in the county, it has been moved back to the orange level on the Health Department’s COVID-19 warning system, the second highest level on the four-color system, which indicates widespread but controlled transmission of the coronavirus.

Over the previous nine weeks, the county had been at the yellow level, the second lowest on the system.

“The threshold for orange status is 10 cases per day per 100,000 residents,” Wilton said. “This is the first week back in orange status since Week 17, April 25-May 1, 2021.”

Several factors are evaluated when determining the color level, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and White House Pandemic Task Force guidelines. However, the main indicator is the seven-day rolling average number of cases per day per 100,000 people.

The rolling average number of cases for the week of July 4 to July 10 was 10.41. That was up from the previous week, when the seven-day rolling average was 9.27 per day per 100,000 people in the county, which has a population of about 225,000.

Vaccines

The Health Department urges people to continue taking steps to limit the spread of the virus. Unvaccinated people are asked to wear masks, and even those who are vaccinated are encouraged to wear masks in indoor settings when they don’t know the vaccination status of all those around them.

In addition, the Health Department advises people to get the vaccine.

As of today, 30.45 percent of Jefferson County residents have completed their COVID-19 vaccinations, the Health Department reported.

People may sign up for a vaccine appointment through the Health Department by going to the state vaccine Navigator website at covidvaccine.mo.gov/navigator/. Or, they may call 877-435-8411.

Comtrea, which also offers health care services around the county, provides vaccines, too. To make an appointment, go to comtrea.org/vaccine, or call 636-232-2308.

To sign up for a vaccine with Mercy, go to mercy.net/MOVaccine. Those without internet access may call 833-364-6777.

SSM Health has an online vaccine appointment site at ssmhealth.com/access/covid19-vaccine-scheduling.

Other hospital systems and pharmacies also are registering people for the vaccines. To find a local vaccine site, visit vaccinefinder.org.

COVID-19 stats

The county has had 24,386 coronavirus cases since the first ones were reported in March 2020, the Health Department reported.

In addition, the county has had a total of 255 COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic began.

The Health Department currently is reporting 249 active COVID-19 cases in the county.