Health officials say the vaccine is needed to combat the Delta variant

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WACO, Texas – The Center for Disease Control says the COVID-19 variant is more contagious than the original strain – and it has now been detected in all 50 states.

The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District says the local increase in cases is another reminder of why citizens should get vaccinated.

Health District Director LaShonda Malrey-Horne says COVID cases in McLennan County have increased over the past three weeks – and it’s not because of the Fourth of July, but the Delta variant.

“If you haven’t been vaccinated, you should still wear a mask,” Horne said. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, you should consider getting vaccinated.”

She says 40 percent of people have been vaccinated, and health officials believe fear is what’s keeping the other 60 percent from taking the vaccine.

“We would never offer our community members a vaccine or a product that wasn’t safe, and we hope that the community trusts the Health District, our staff, and our leadership,” Horne said.

According to the CDC, there are over 30 million cases of the Delta variant detected across the nation.

Local hospitals say they have sufficient capacity to care for patients, but Baylor Scott and White in Temple says it has seen an increase in patients needing hospitalization and intensive care.

Horne says although there has been an increase in hospitalizations, the numbers are still lower than they were this time last year. The Health District says it’s doing all they can to keep the numbers down.

‘We’ve implemented a Vaccine Ambassador Program. That’s where we train community members to be advocates to getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” Horne said.

With a spike in cases, and some states debating on reinstating a mask mandate, Horne says based on Governor Greg Abbott’s order, they don’t expect this happening for McLennan County.

The Public Health District says it will keep encouraging the community to get the vaccine in order for people to stay healthy against any variant which may come.

“We’ve had almost about 80 or 90 percent of our employees to get vaccinated, because we want to lead by example,” Horne said. “I’ve been vaccinated. We lead by example, and we just encourage everybody to get the vaccine.”

To learn how you can get the vaccine, you can visit the COVID Waco website.

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